‘Whether we care about providing access to affordable health care, reducing the gun violence that plagues our schools and communities, protecting voting rights, achieving equal pay, or solving the urgent threat of climate change, there is a fundamental structural barrier that prevents progress: rigged electoral maps drawn with surgical precision by politicians to preserve their party’s political power and silence the will of the people’ – All On The Line, a national campaign to restore fairness to our democracy, by fighting against gerrymandering and pushing for fair maps, in the next round of redistricting.
On July 27, 2020, Delaware County Democratic Party members met (virtually) with Katy Shanahan, Ohio State Director for All On The Line, for an awareness session on the upcoming nationwide redistricting exercise. In that session called “Redistricting U,” Katy gave an overview of the redistricting process, enough to appreciate the complexity and its significance.
Every 10 years, our country conducts a national Census. Following the Census, states are required to redraw their congressional, state legislative, and other district boundaries to ensure an equal, proportional distribution of people in each district. That process is called redistricting.
The process of who draws the lines varies from state to state. In most states, the state legislature draws the map and the governor can sign or veto their decisions. Other states have independent redistricting commissions to help remove partisan politics from the process. The rules for how these commissions are formed and managed also differ according to each state.
Ohio’s State Legislative Map-Drawing Process:
There are four options for completing the Redistricting process, starting September 2021. A seven-member Redistricting Commission is in charge of drawing Ohio’s state legislative maps and the Commission is made up of:
- The Ohio Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State, and Nominees from the following legislative leaders:
- Speaker of the House,
- House Minority Leader,
- Senate President and
- Senate Minority Leader.
Note: The nominees of the legislative leaders are not required to be legislators themselves.
The process has several criteria, and if they are not met, there are grounds for a legal challenge at the Ohio Supreme Court. Some of the top-level criteria are:
- Districts should not split counties more than once (where possible),
- Statewide proportional share of legislative seats, etc.
Ohio’s Congressional Map-Drawing Process:
The Ohio legislature is primarily responsible for drawing the congressional maps, though the Redistricting Commission is also involved in drawing the maps in certain circumstances.
In the case of Congressional map-drawing, there are five options for completing the process and there are several criteria, and if they are not met, there are grounds for a legal challenge at the Ohio Supreme Court. Some of the top-level criteria are Compactness, Contiguity, County / City splits.
One of the interesting criteria is with regards to the County splits:
- 65 counties must be kept whole
- 18 counties may be split once
- 5 counties may be split twice.
Gerrymandering contributes to the polarization and dysfunction in our political system. It’s time to end map manipulation and finally have fair districts and the upcoming Redistricting exercise is our opportunity to make it happen.
Thanks to the DCDP Communications for giving me the opportunity to share this writeup on Redistricting / Map Drawing process. – Joydeep Gupta, Vice chair of the Delaware County Democratic Party and Certified Redistricting U Advocate
CALL TO ACTION: Be sure to complete the U.S. Census as soon as possible. The Trump Administration has decided to end the Census count a month earlier than previously planned, which will leave many people, especially people of color, uncounted. Click the button to complete the Census for your household!