Voting rights advocates say Ohio congressional map has been tampered with: NPR

State Republican Senator Rob McCauley presents a new map of the congressional district, drawn by the Senate Republican Caucus.

Andy Chow/Ohio Public Radio

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Andy Chow/Ohio Public Radio

State Republican Senator Rob McCauley presents a new map of the congressional district, drawn by the Senate Republican Caucus.

Andy Chow/Ohio Public Radio

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, has signed off on a congressional map that creates 15 new districts in the state, but anti-registration advocates are criticizing the map, saying it’s drawn to retain the Republican stronghold in Ohio.

The plan includes 12 seats either in favor of the Republicans or leaning heavily in their favour. That’s 80% of districts in a state that voted for former President Donald Trump with 53% of the vote in 2020.

Voter rights groups say Republican lawmakers have done their best to split the map in a way that gives them an advantage.

“It’s full of weird shapes and jagged lines,” says Jane Miller, executive director of the Ohio League of Women Voters. “Maps don’t look like that unless you’re trying to secure a partisan outcome instead of fairly representing the electorate.”

Republicans defended the counties, saying they retain most of Ohio’s largest cities as whole and divide fewer counties than were drawn 10 years ago.

There are six districts in which the margin between Republican and Democratic voters is less than 10%. But of those six districts, five still tilted the Republican Party’s favour.

“I don’t think we should go into any mapping process and say, ‘Well, we should have seven guaranteed to be one party and eight guaranteed to be the other,'” says State Republican Senator Rob McCauley. “I don’t think that’s what he wanted.” electors.”

2018 redistricting reforms in Ohio

State lawmakers laid the map under a new process approved by Ohio voters in 2018. The change was part of a movement to reform redistricting and prevent electoral fraud. A provision in the state’s constitutional amendment states that leaders cannot map a “unfavorable or unfavorable preference for a political party or its occupants.”

Democratic Representative Stephanie Howes of Cleveland blasted Republicans in a heated debate, saying this map ignores the will of voters.

“That’s not what people voted for in May 2018. They deserve better,” Hoss said. “We need to do better. And we definitely need to vote on this mess.”

At the same debate, state Republican Rep. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati said Ohio is heading into the red and the election depends on any particular candidate.

“Fair, ladies and gentlemen, in the eyes of the beholder,” said Seitz. He continued, “We followed the constitution and did our duty. We listened to the people. Listening to them does not mean agreeing with them.”

The results of the new map could have national implications. It would take a state that previously had 12 Republicans and four Democrats, potentially tipping the balance of power in the US House of Representatives by eliminating two safe Democratic seats and creating a potential 13 district that the Republican Party could win.

Ohio has become the latest state to put the finishing touches on a new map. Democrats in states such as Illinois and Maryland have been criticized for proposing maps in favor of their party. But new maps across the country have, so far, led to safer areas for Republicans.

Because Ohio’s map did not have bipartisan support, it will only remain in place for four years, instead of the usual 10-year period, another provision of the 2018 redistricting reforms.

Supporters say they will not fall without a fight.

“This map is unconstitutional because it cuts and slices communities just because it inappropriately favors one political party,” Miller says.

The National Redistricting Trust, an affiliate of the Democratic National Committee for Redistricting, has filed an appeal in the Ohio Supreme Court, saying the new map violates the state constitution.

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