SLAY THE DRAGON follows everyday people, outraged by what they see as an attack on the core democratic principle that every person’s vote should count equally. This election year, we’re joining together with grassroots partners to put an end to gerrymandering. Because this issue impacts each state differently, we’ve created a map to help you navigate how gerrymandering affects your state and community. SLAY THE DRAGON arrives on demand April 3.
What’s going on in Ohio
Beginning in 2021, Ohio will use two unique systems to draw its congressional and state legislative districts.
For congressional districts, the Legislature must attempt to pass redistricting plans that attract support from both parties. If this fails, then the task goes to a commission whose members are appointed by politicians. This seven-member commission is made of the Governor, State Auditor, Secretary of State, and one person appointed by each state legislative leader. The only limitation is that members cannot be members of Congress. If the commission fails, then the task goes back to the Legislature. If there is still a lack of bipartisan support, the resulting plan will go into effect for only four years, after which this process will begin again. These maps must be adopted by October 31, 2021.
For state legislative districts, the same seven-member commission that serves as a backup for drawing congressional districts has the primary responsibility for drawing state legislative maps. The length of time for which the maps are in effect depends on the breakdown for how they are adopted: if at least two commissioners aligned with both parties vote for the maps, they remain in effect for the entire decade. But if the maps are adopted on a party-line vote, they will only be in effect for four years. These maps must be adopted by September 1, 2021.
In addition to the federal requirements of one person, one vote and the Voting Rights Act, Ohio law requires that state legislative and congressional districts be compact, contiguous, and preserve political subdivisions. Favoring an incumbent or party is prohibited.
The two processes for the drawing of maps have separate public input requirements. Both, however, require the acceptance of public map submissions.
For the congressional process, either a joint committee of the legislature or the backup commission, depending on the stage of the process, must hold at least two public hearings before adopting a map.
For the state legislative process, the commission must hold at least three public hearings prior to adopting a map. Additionally, the state legislative commission must electronically broadcast its meetings in a publicly accessible way.
Disputes will be decided by the state Supreme Court, which is currently conservative-dominated. Two seats on the state Supreme Court are up for election in 2020. These elections, combined with later elections in 2022, will determine whether liberals or conservatives control the court.
The entire Ohio House and half of the Ohio Senate will be up for re-election in 2020.
The Supreme Court sent a federal lawsuit (Randolph Institute v. Householder) back to the district court to be dismissed in light of the Court's ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause that federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear partisan gerrymandering claims.
Based upon a recent estimate of congressional seat changes following the 2020 census, Ohio is estimated to lose one congressional seat.
Defend the new system while advocating for further reforms.
In 2020, support legislative candidates who will advocate for fair districting.
In 2020 and 2022, work on judicial elections.
In 2021, use public comment to push the Legislature and Commission towards drawing fair districts.