Ohio's congressional, legislative redistricting panel cites Census data lag for inaction

Ohio is using a new redistricting process for the first time this year that was approved by voters through state ballot issues in 2015 and 2018. The new system, which is meant to fight partisan gerrymandering, requires the independent commission to finish redrawing legislative districts by Sept. 1.

Posted: Aug 6, 2021 1:42 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The closely watched panel pivotal to redrawing Ohio’s congressional and legislative districts kicked off with a whimper Friday, with officials pointing again to delayed release of 2020 Census figures even as the clock on their September deadlines continues ticking.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine convened the high-powered Ohio Redistricting Commission for a Statehouse hearing that lasted about 7 minutes.

That included administration of oaths to its members: DeWine; Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Auditor Keith Faber, both Republicans; Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp, also Republicans; and state Sen. Vernon Sykes and House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, both Akron Democrats as well as father and daughter.

“It’s going to take awhile to do this redistricting process,” said Cupp, who DeWine appointed co-chair alongside Vernon Sykes. “We don’t have the data yet and the time is very tight.”

Ohio is using a new redistricting process for the first time this year that was approved by voters through state ballot issues in 2015 and 2018.

The new system, which is meant to fight partisan gerrymandering, requires the independent commission to finish redrawing legislative districts by Sept. 1.

It sets a Sept. 30 deadline for the General Assembly to complete a new map of the state’s congressional districts, which will be reduced from 16 to 15 as a result of lagging population growth.

The U.S. Census Bureau now says it anticipates detailed population data to arrive in the states Thursday — four days sooner than most recently expected but still more than four months after the April 1 date on which it normally arrives, due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost helped expedite the national timeline for release of the data with a lawsuit, which alleged the delay threatened Ohio’s ability to meet redistricting deadlines approved by voters and set in its state Constitution.

Asked about the chances of meeting the Sept. 1 deadline, Vernon Sykes said, “With the Census data being received four days earlier, we’re more than apt to do that than we were before — but, still, it is a challenge.”

Cupp said he would prefer the congressional map to be decided through a bipartisan vote of the General Assembly, rather than having to come to the commission for resolution, as the new process provides.

The one announcement to come from Friday’s meeting was that nine public meetings will be held around Ohio in the near future to gather public input on the process, but Cupp could provide neither dates nor locations. He said details would be finalized soon.

The lack of detail continued to frustrate voting rights organizations, which have called for months for the panel to get started on its work and even sued in one case alleging behind-the-scenes meetings among state lawmakers don’t meet the Constitution’s transparency requirement.

“There’s more that we don’t know than we do, which is really problematic when we’re right upon mapmaking,” Ohio League of Women Voters Executive Director Jen Miller lamented in a press briefing Thursday.

She said the public already should understand how Census data will be set up, cleaned and provided to the public and the process for advocacy groups and average citizens to submit their own maps.

Miller said the panel also could already have gathered testimony from experts in geographic information system mapping software, political science and other relevant fields.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 996341

Reported Deaths: 16245
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1343262101
Lake658231151
Allen57160791
Hamilton45963460
St. Joseph43954607
Elkhart35546503
Vanderburgh31975473
Tippecanoe27694256
Johnson24821440
Hendricks23647353
Porter22735362
Madison18538404
Clark18383248
Vigo17274300
Monroe15117197
LaPorte14987249
Delaware14931256
Howard14574286
Kosciusko12166147
Hancock11597175
Bartholomew11447179
Warrick11225188
Floyd10983214
Wayne10840248
Grant9898217
Morgan9361176
Boone8819115
Dubois8210129
Dearborn815492
Henry8107150
Noble7944106
Marshall7786134
Cass7462119
Lawrence7379168
Shelby7115114
Jackson691788
Gibson6480113
Harrison641591
Huntington630299
Knox6269105
DeKalb623796
Montgomery6184109
Miami586595
Putnam573477
Clinton567171
Whitley558055
Steuben550473
Wabash5250101
Jasper520475
Jefferson504695
Ripley492485
Adams472773
Daviess4596112
Scott433968
Greene421196
Wells419787
Clay418460
White414261
Decatur4118101
Fayette402186
Jennings383260
Posey374243
LaGrange352078
Washington352049
Randolph339999
Spencer336442
Fountain331858
Sullivan326652
Starke310868
Owen310169
Fulton304566
Orange290562
Jay278445
Perry264452
Franklin262742
Carroll258232
Rush257232
Vermillion254254
Parke229726
Pike227343
Tipton225659
Blackford187840
Pulaski181155
Crawford158122
Newton155648
Benton150117
Brown144047
Martin137319
Switzerland133911
Warren120116
Union106615
Ohio84012
Unassigned0532

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1490451

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1620041662
Cuyahoga1439412412
Hamilton1040301409
Montgomery727961240
Summit606541094
Lucas55296904
Butler50803707
Stark456401053
Lorain34875568
Warren32293369
Mahoning30057672
Clermont27811321
Lake26457434
Delaware23872162
Licking23361283
Trumbull22357552
Fairfield22081241
Greene21967311
Medina21624305
Clark19513349
Richland18225280
Portage17579247
Wood17122220
Allen15627269
Miami15259296
Muskingum14417174
Columbiana13587263
Wayne13494263
Tuscarawas12372298
Marion11742175
Scioto11313154
Pickaway11246141
Erie10586180
Ross10397196
Lawrence9630137
Hancock9476149
Ashtabula9370197
Belmont9059197
Geauga8766157
Jefferson8439191
Huron8172139
Union806256
Washington7995137
Sandusky7654145
Athens765372
Knox7539138
Darke7525151
Seneca7166144
Ashland6761125
Auglaize663396
Shelby6374111
Brown626282
Crawford6147130
Mercer605793
Defiance6043102
Fulton588596
Highland585899
Madison584976
Clinton573890
Logan566292
Guernsey564867
Preble5623121
Putnam5227108
Williams515384
Perry510661
Champaign500871
Jackson493470
Ottawa476686
Coshocton466382
Morrow448256
Pike428462
Fayette419960
Adams409287
Gallia408165
Hardin407176
Van Wert361578
Henry356671
Holmes3539122
Hocking349078
Wyandot315761
Carroll294559
Paulding274345
Meigs256849
Monroe210553
Noble195146
Morgan188132
Harrison177042
Vinton161124
Unassigned05
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