The Ohio Redistricting Commission approved new state legislative district maps by a 5-2 vote early in the morning on Sept. 16. The two Democratic members of the commission, state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D) and state Sen. Vernon Sykes (D), were the two dissenting votes. Since the map was approved along partisan lines, it will only last for four years, rather than ten, as outlined in the 2015 constitutional amendment creating the commission.
Senate President Matt Huffman (R), a member of the commission, estimated that the new maps would create 62 Republican seats and 37 Democratic seats in the House, and 23 Republican seats and 10 Democratic seats in the Senate. Cleveland.com reported that Democrats on the commission agreed with the Senate estimates, but said the new House map would create 65 Republican seats and 34 Democratic seats.
A statement from the commission explaining the manner by which districts were allocated said: “The Commission considered statewide state and federal partisan general election results during the last ten years. There were sixteen such contests. When considering the results of each of those elections, the Commission determined that Republican candidates won thirteen out of sixteen of those elections. […] Accordingly, the statewide proportion of districts whose voters favor each political party corresponds closely to the statewide preferences of the voters of Ohio.”
Following the enactment of the maps, Huffman released a statement saying: “These house and senate maps will be in place for the next four years, and represent an important first step towards approving the next map that will complete the decade. […] I’m convinced we could’ve reached a ten-year map. However, special interests pressured democrats to not support it, asking voters to extend the deadline to accomplish that.”
Leading up to the vote, Emilia Sykes disapproved of the maps as overly partisan, saying she would “call it offensive and plain wrong to move forward this map […] to put forth something that so arrogantly flies in the face of what people, our voters, asked us to do, not once, but twice.”
Commission members Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) expressed disapproval of the maps and said they expected court challenges to follow their vote. DeWine said: “Along with the secretary of state I will vote to send this matter forward but it will not be the end of it. We know that this matter will be in court. […] What I am sure in my heart is that this committee could have come up with a bill that was much more clearly constitutional.”
Click here to view images of the maps and read more about redistricting in Ohio following the 2020 census.