Ohio Auditor Keith Faber speaks with media after the Ohio Redistricting Commission voted to adopt a third set of legislative maps. (Photo: Susan Tebben, OCJ)

Democrats, Auditor Faber vote against maps

BY: SUSAN TEBBEN – Ohio Capital Journal

Four Republican members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission passed a third round of legislative maps Thursday, exactly one week after the Ohio Supreme Court’s deadline passed.

The maps just introduced Thursday afternoon passed with a 4-3 vote, with both Democrats voting against as with previously passed maps.

The House map presented on Thursday shows a 54-45 GOP advantage in the House and an 18-15 advantage in the Senate. While 19 of the Democratic House districts and seven in the Senate are considered competitive political “toss-ups” in the 50% to 52% advantage range, none of the Republican districts are, with all of them having a Republican advantage more than 52%.

Auditor Keith Faber was the lone Republican to vote against the maps, which he said is for the same reasons he didn’t support the Democratic maps last week.

“I think there are some issues that I have concerns with and so for that reason, I didn’t think, to be consistent, I could overlook them in this map,” Faber said.

Those issues included compactness and political subdivision splits.

 The Ohio Senate districts as shown on the newest GOP redistricting proposal. The map was brought forward Thursday during a meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.
Source: Ohio Redistricting Commission

“I understand the desire to have a map, I understand the desire to send a map to the supreme court that they will uphold, but again, I’m not going to violate my view of the constitution merely to get a map done,” Faber said.

While the Ohio Redistricting Commission originally met this week to talk congressional maps, for which they have another few weeks to meet the supreme court deadline, legislative maps took the attention away.

Senate President Matt Huffman joined with Gov. Mike DeWine and Faber in bringing up the legislative matter amidst talks on congressional district lines.

The commission is constitutionally required to use statewide state and federal elections data from 2016 to 2020 to come up with the data for their maps.

The passage comes mere days before the commission members must appear before the supreme court and answer for missing the deadline of Feb. 17.

 The Ohio House districts as shown on the GOP map proposal presented during a Thursday meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.
Source: Ohio Redistricting Commission

The court asked for all members to come to a March 1 hearing on the possibility of contempt of court for ORC members.

The commission members adjourned a meeting that deadline day with no maps approved. GOP leaders, including commission co-chair House Speaker Bob Cupp, said no agreement could be made and compliance with the orders of the court and the Ohio Constitution weren’t possible in the 10 day window they were given after the last legislative maps were struck down.

Democrats maintained throughout Thursday that they were left out of the process, and the map that Republicans presented does not address toss-up districts.

“We have been and continue to be willing to work with them if they want to collaborate at any time to produce a commission map,” co-chair state Sen. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron.

In their statement supporting their maps, the GOP refuted the Democratic comments.

“The final adopted plan contains input from those members of the commission, directly or through their staff, who chose to participate,” Cupp read from the statement.

Without bipartisan agreement, if the supreme court accepts the maps this time around, they will last four years.

After the maps were passed, Secretary of State Frank LaRose asked the commission to allow him to distribute a statement for candidates whose residency might change because of the district changes.

Now the commission will move back to congressional maps. Cupp said the commission plans to meet on Tuesday, the same day as their contempt hearing.

SUSAN TEBBEN is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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