Critics say new proposals intended to make Ohio’s process for drawing congressional and legislative district lines less partisan would actually make gerrymandering worse. Rep. Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, introduced a pair of resolutions last week intended to amplify minority party members’ voices on the panels that draw the lines. Dan Tokaji, a law professor at OSU’s Moritz College of Law, said the proposals also remove safeguards that allow Ohio citizens and public officials to challenge newly drawn district maps. Tokaji said the resolutions don’t allow a citizen-initiated referendum or a governor’s veto of the congressional map approved by state lawmakers. “This will ensure the majority party can ram through the plan they want without any votes from the minority party and any realistic plan of it being reversed,” Tokaji told reporters Monday.
Ohio’s district maps are redrawn every 10 years, with each Census. Currently, state legislative districts are drawn by the Apportionment Board, composed of the governor, secretary of state, auditor and one state legislator each from the minority and majority party. Congressional districts are drawn by the General Assembly.
In 2011, Republicans held all statewide elected offices and a majority in both Statehouse chambers and thus controlled the redistricting process.
Huffman’s proposals would add a majority and minority legislator to the apportionment board and establish a six-member committee of lawmakers, with two minority party members, responsible for drawing Congressional lines. Both plans would require the vote of at least one minority party member for approval.