Ohio
Congressional BoundariesDrawn by hybrid commission system
State BoundariesDrawn by politician commission
Governor's PartyRepublican
Legislative PartyRepublican

Census-related Redistricting Timeline Delays

Congressional

Alert:
Severe

State Legislative

Alert:
Severe

Process

Hybrid Commission System

Beginning in 2021, Ohio will use two unique systems to draw its congressional and state legislative districts.

  • For congressional districts, the Legislature must attempt to pass redistricting plans with bipartisan support. If this fails, then the task goes to a seven-member commission composed of the Governor, State Auditor, Secretary of State, and one person appointed by each state legislative leader. If the commission fails, then the task goes back to the Legislature. If there is still a lack of bipartisan support, the resulting plan will go into effect for only four years, after which this process will begin again. 
  • For state legislative districts, the same seven-member commission that serves as a backup for drawing congressional districts has the primary responsibility for drawing state legislative maps. The length of time for which the maps are in effect depends on the breakdown for how they are adopted: if at least two commissioners from each party vote for the maps, they remain in effect for the entire decade. But if the maps are adopted on a party-line vote, they will only be in effect for four years. 

Criteria

In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Ohio’s state constitution (Art. XI) requires that state legislative and congressional districts be compact, contiguous, and preserve whole single counties. Furthermore, for state legislative districts only, favoring an incumbent or party is prohibited, and the partisan lean of state legislative districts should be proportional to the statewide preferences of Ohio voters.

On the second round of congressional districting in the Legislature, a plan cannot unduly favor or disfavor a political party or its incumbents, cannot unduly split governmental units, and must attempt to draw districts that are compact. Maps produced by this second round must also include an explanation of how they complied with the criteria.

Public Input

The two processes for the drawing of maps have separate public input requirements. Both require the acceptance of public map submissions.

  • For the congressional process, either a joint committee of the Legislature or the backup commission, depending on the stage of the process, must hold at least two public hearings before adopting a map.
  • For the state legislative process, the commission must hold at least three public hearings prior to adopting a map. Additionally, the state legislative commission must electronically broadcast its meetings in a publicly accessible way.

2011 Cycle

In the 2011 cycle, plaintiffs argued that Ohio's new congressional district plan unfairly advantages Republicans in a federal lawsuit (Randolph Institute v. Householder). The Supreme Court sent the case back to the district court in October 2019 to be dismissed in light of the Court's ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause that federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear partisan gerrymandering claims. As a result, Ohio’s 2011 congressional map will remain in place until 2022, after the 2020 elections.

Issues

Pitfalls

It is possible that the new hybrid commission process could perpetuate partisanship in redistricting. While maps adopted on party lines will only last four years, instead of a full decade, legislators could conceivably continue to pass four-year partisan maps. The best way to prevent this from happening is to get involved in the public input process and place pressure on elected representatives.

Redistricting disputes will be decided by the state Supreme Court, which is currently controlled by Republicans with a narrow 4-3 majority.

Congressional Seats

Following the 2020 Census apportionment results, Ohio lost one congressional seat.

Actions

Defend the new system, which moves in the right direction away from full legislative control to a hybrid commission system, while advocating for further reforms.

  • Write to your local news organization in support of the new commission system.
  • Advocate for a genuinely fair constitutional amendment that creates an independent redistricting commission. Read the Common Cause Activist Handbook on Redistricting Reform to learn about what reforms have been successful in the past, and what steps to take to enact reform in the future. 
  • In 2022, support voting rights advocates in judicial elections.

In 2021, participate in the public input process.

  • Obtain Ohio redistricting data from OpenPrecincts.
  • Start to plan out what defines your community – whether it’s a shared economic interest, school districts, or other social or other cultural, historical, or economic interests – and how that can be represented on a map. This will come in handy once the commission or Legislature starts collecting feedback.
  • Use software tools such as Dave's Redistricting App and Districtr to draw district maps showing either (a) what a fair map would look like, or (b) where the community you believe should be better represented is located.

Contacts

ACLU of Ohio

Fair Districts = Fair Elections

Ohio Voice

League of Women Voters of Ohio

Sources

All About Redistricting

NCSL

Ballotpedia