Deidra Reese, State Campaign Manager, Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation/Ohio Unity Coalition
Equal Districts Coalition Denounces Republicans’ Proposed District Maps as Unconstitutional, Unacceptable
COLUMBUS — Today, the Equal Districts Coalition — a unified group of 30+ Ohio advocacy organizations and unions engaged in the 2021 redistricting process — blasted the Republican members of the redistricting commission for voting to propose blatantly unconstitutional maps drawn behind closed doors. “For the last decade, Ohioans have lived under some of the most gerrymandered maps in the country, and the Republicans managed to propose new maps that are even worse than the ones we have now,” said Katy Shanahan, Ohio State Director of All On The Line. “Our reform in 2015 was a flat rejection of what happened in 2011, when our maps were drawn behind closed doors to gerrymander the Republicans into supermajorities in seats that they just aren’t winning in votes at the ballot box. These proposed maps ignore everything we fought for in the reforms.” The Republican-dominated commission voted along party lines to make the Republicans’ unconstitutional maps the official maps proposed by the commission. These maps, which were presented eight days past the deadline required by Ohio’s Constitution, are far less compact than the maps presented on time by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus and the citizen-led Ohio Citizens’ Redistricting Commission (OCRC). “Ohio’s Constitution clearly says legislative map drawers must aim for representational fairness based on voters’ preferences over the past decade. It’s clear the Republicans ignored the Constitution in drafting their maps,” said Desiree Tims, President and CEO of Innovation Ohio. “Republicans only win about 55% of Ohio’s vote. A constitutional map will not give them more than 55% of government seats.” Based on initial review of the Republicans’ maps, they are unconstitutional and/or problematic in the following ways:
The maps do not attempt representational fairness based on the preferences of Ohio voters over the past decade. Republicans only win about 55% of Ohio’s vote — a constitutional map will not give them more than 55% of government seats.
The Republicans’ proposed maps appear to preserve unearned Republican supermajorities in both chambers.
The Ohio Constitution and federal law require map drawers to consider whether communities of color have adequate and real pathways to political representation. The Republican commissioners admitted publicly at today’s hearing that they did not take this into consideration.
The Republicans’ proposed maps crack and pack Ohio’s communities of color, diluting their political power and denying them adequate representation.
For example, Cuyahoga County — a county with a population that is more than 30% Black — would be unlikely to have even one Black state senator under these proposed maps.
Additionally, the state Senate map draws the Black communities in and around Dayton together with white, rural Preble, Drake and Miami counties, rather than connecting them with similar communities in Jefferson Township, Montgomery County.
The proposed maps crack apart communities of interest, dividing neighborhoods and forcing illogical segments of the state together — clearly intending to drown out Democratic votes.
For example, despite their proximity and similar interests, Warren and Youngstown are drawn into separate districts in the Senate and House maps.
In Franklin County, a suburban Columbus district wraps around Columbus from Lincoln Village to Huber Ridge, in order to keep a western Franklin County district solidly Republican.
In Lucas County, House map drawers drew rural northern Hancock County together with northwestern Toledo suburbs such as Sylvania — while simultaneously combining neighboring suburbs (Holland and Maumee) with Ottawa County rather than with Toledo.
Suburbs around major metros are drawn into questionable-looking districts that snake around metros to connect to rural areas. Medium-sized cities and suburbs are wholesale separated from larger cities/metros to dilute with rural areas.
“After months of delaying the process, missing a constitutionally mandated deadline, neglecting their duties to attend public hearings, and refusing to work in a transparent and bipartisan manner, it is no surprise that Republicans have come forward with unacceptable maps that are an insult to the voters,” said Kobie Christian, Communications Director of For Our Future Ohio. “We stand with our partners on the Equal Districts Coalition and people across Ohio in opposing the GOP’s sham maps and demanding truly representative maps that reflect the way Ohioans actually vote and allow voters to choose who represents them at the Statehouse, not the other way around.” The commission will now hold public hearings to gather testimony on these maps. The hearings will be held this coming Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, with shamefully little advanced notice. Despite how inaccessible these upcoming hearings are, the Equal Districts Coalition encourages and will continue to organize as many Ohioans as possible to attend the upcoming hearings to testify on various issues with the Republicans’ maps. Here’s what Equal Districts Coalition members are saying about the Republican commissioners’ maps: Jeniece Brock, Policy & Advocacy Director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and co-chair of the Ohio Citizens’ Redistricting Commission: “Our maps need to reflect the true diversity of Ohio. There are almost 2 million Black and Brown Ohioans who are too often left disaffected and apathetic about the political process because they don’t see themselves represented. In Akron, over 30% of the population is Black, and our legislators need to include and uplift their voices when we draw our maps for the next 10 years.” Heather Taylor-Miesle, Executive Director of the Ohio Environmental Council: “These proposed maps are disrespectful to the supermajority of Ohioans who went to the ballot box twice in the last decade and demanded our leaders stop cheating. Without a fair and truly representative democracy, Ohioans will continue to face environmental injustices from big polluters. The Ohio Redistricting Commission must go back to the drawing board for the health of our environment and our communities.” Deidra Reese, Ohio Unity Coalition: “District lines must assure the ability for communities of color to truly impact and influence the outcome of elections, and, more importantly, those who will ultimately represent them in Congress and the state legislature. The current levels of underrepresentation in the General Assembly and in Congress are out of step with our diversifying population.” Katie Paris, Founder of Red Wine and Blue: “These maps prove Republicans are afraid of suburban women. They’re trying to divide our communities because they know what happens when we band together: they lose.” Pierrette “Petee” Talley, CEO of the Ohio Coalition on Black Civic Participation: “Now that the commission map has been presented and voted upon, how very disappointing it is that opportunities to consider districts that reflect the true population of the people who live in the districts — and the issues and concerns that bind them together by their experiences — was so foreign to the majority commission members. Race, ethnicity, economic status, and educational attainment are similar enough to require race as a basis for drawing these legislative districts, but such criteria was intentionally never even considered.”
The Equal Districts Coalition includes the Ohio State Conference of the NAACP, Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio Organizing Collaborative, OAPSE/AFSCME, the Ohio Environmental Council, AFSCME Ohio Council 8, the Ohio Student Association, ProgressOhio, All On the Line-Ohio, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Ohio Council of Churches, Innovation Ohio, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, URGE – Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, LEAD Ohio, the Ohio Women’s Alliance, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Education Association, CAIR-Ohio, Campus Vote Project, For Our Future Ohio, Ohio Unity Coalition, Stand Up For Ohio, Equality Ohio, The Freedom Bloc, and more.