Objectives: Changes to ‘cosmetic’ legislative maps at best

Again asking the Ohio Supreme Court to reject the Ohio Reorganization Commission’s legislative maps, objectors said the fourth floor is simply the third floor in a new guise.

The League of Women Voters of Ohio, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, and a group of Ohio voters represented by the National Redistricting Action Fund, all filed their anticipated objections to the approved maps at the end of the deadline day, March 28.

Challengers on the map criticized the entire process by which the fourth plan was approved and said Republican members of the commission showed “egregious contempt” for supreme court orders and the Ohio constitution.

“Even the supporters of the fourth floor, the Republican legislative commissioners, didn’t bother to pretend that the fourth floor was constitutional,” NRAF lawyers wrote, referring to Senate President Matt Huffman, House Speaker Bob Cupp. , Governor Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

State auditor Keith Faber, also a Republican member of the commission, voted against the adoption of the fourth map, later telling reporters that he was not sure the map would “meet the court’s test.”

The NRAF said it is not surprising to see the commission carry out “the manual work of the Republican caucus staff members less than an hour after it was first publicly proposed.” But it still does not comply with what the voters asked when they approved a revision of the reorganization rules in the state, or with the order of the Court of Cassation to draw up a “completely new” map, instead of working from the one rejected by the court, said the group.

“The staff of the Republican caucus made minor cosmetic changes to an unconstitutional plan of the General Assembly,” said the NRAF.

These changes have been “underestimated” by legislative leaders, according to the NRAF and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the League of Women Voters in its challenge. Not only was the map more than 97% the same as the previous version, as Huffman said at the ORC hearing on Monday, but the launch districts remain a significant problem for the partisan breakdown of the plan.

The ACLU said 17 House and six Senate districts that the plan calls “democratic orientation” are within a 2% partisan advantage, making them tossed rather than “pending” districts in blue.

“Once the scrap districts are removed from consideration, Republicans are favored in 66% of the seats in each chamber … and Democrats are favored in only 34%,” ACLU lawyers said in their briefing.

The court had asked for a partisan division that gave the GOP 54% of the seats and the Dems 46%.

The groups argue that the state high court should adopt a constitutional plan for the 2022 elections itself after overseeing the actions of the reorganization commission – perhaps using a “special teacher”, that is, someone neutral and chosen by the court to lead the way. effort – or speed up the process to get a fifth map drawn by April 20. That date would give the office of the Secretary of State the ability to implement the maps in time for an August 2nd legislative prime, which seems likely at this point.

In a hearing last week in the United States District Court, a panel of three judges said they would not yet intervene in the trial, but indicated the April 20 deadline as the date for all parties in a federal lawsuit. primary to have a map ready for attention. The three judges also asked officials in the Secretary of State’s office for an “expiration date” to provide a map, which led to April 20 for the August 2 primary for legislative bidding.

On Friday afternoon, the Office of the Secretariat of State sent another directive to the county electoral councils, reiterating that the contests of the Chambers of State will not be in the runoff of the May primary.

The directive also stated that councils were authorized to issue ballot papers to military and Ohio Overseas residents, under the Uniformed Services and Overseas Citizens Absence Voting Act. These ballots must be published no later than 5 April, which is also the status of early voting.

A spokesperson for the LaRose office said this meant “elections are underway”.

The Ohio Supreme Court is also awaiting responses from members of the reorganization commission as to why they should not be despised in reorganization cases. It is also considering a congressional map, but lawsuits for that map focus on the 2024 election cycle, but do not consolidate more recently adopted maps such as those that will be used in the 2022 election cycle, including the 3 primaries. May.

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