Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the Ohio Redistricting Commission needs to begin the process of drawing new state legislative maps as soon as possible because any delay could potentially conflict with the statutory requirements of election administration if final maps aren’t approved by the end of next month.
On Wednesday, LaRose (pictured above) sent a letter to the members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission emphasizing the importance of expediting the completion of the new state legislative maps.
According to LaRose, the commission must approve its final legislative maps by September 22nd. Other important dates LaRose outlined are that October 23rd is the last possible date for map approval, November 6th is the last possible date to provide new maps to local boards of elections, and November 20th is the last date for candidates to move to new districts to run in them.
LaRose said he calculated the deadline by working backward from the December 20th filing deadline for the 2024 March primary and allowing for the possibility of lawsuits.
“Simply put, time is not our ally. I believe the Ohio Redistricting Commission must approve a new General Assembly district plan no later than September 22nd, 2023. If the Ohio Redistricting Commission fails to timely adopt a new district plan or litigation renders these deadlines and procedures impossible to meet. I for one consider this a bad scenario for Ohioans, and it should be avoided at all costs,” LaRose said.
The September 22nd deadline is ambitious as the two co-chairs of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, State Representative Jeff LaRe (R-Fairfield County) and Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) scheduled the first 2023 meeting of the panel on September 13th.
However, this meeting date is in flux after Attorney General Dave Yost sent a letter on Monday to the commission stating that the co-chairs do not have the constitutional authority to schedule the meeting and only Governor Mike DeWine has the authority to reconvene them.
Spokesperson for DeWine, Dan Tierney told The Ohio Star that it’s still too early to know if DeWine will change the date of the first Commission meeting as a result of Yost’s letter.
“Too early to determine if the date will be changed as a result of this development. Our office will announce a formal date in the near future,” Tierney told The Star.
The Ohio Supreme Court rejected the more recent two congressional maps created by Republicans in July of 2022. Ohio used the earlier GOP-designed map for its 2022 primary and won’t use an updated one until 2024. The redistricting commission redraws the legislative and congressional maps every 10 years to reflect demographic changes following the U.S. Census.
Republican state legislators appealed the Supreme Court ruling on congressional redistricting to the U.S. Supreme Court in October.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a summary judgment, a decision made without listening to oral arguments, reversing the Ohio Supreme Court’s judgment from last July that the congressional districting process unfairly favored the Republican Party. The Court’s ruling means that the Ohio Redistricting Commission needs to draw new boundaries for next year’s legislative elections.
Other members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission include DeWine, LaRose, State Auditor Keith Faber, Senate Majority Whip Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), and House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington).
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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star, The Star News Network, and The Arizona Sun Times. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Frank LaRose” by Frank LaRose.