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On Aug. 12, the U.S. Census Bureau released its results from the 2020 census to state lawmakers so that they can begin the process of drawing new district lines for both U.S. Congressional and State Legislative seats.

New districts will be drawn this year using a 7 member bipartisan committee, which, although not perfect, is a welcome change from the completely partisan process used 10 years ago when the last set of lines were drawn by the Ohio GOP.  This change was brought about through two ballot initiatives that Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved to ensure more fairness and transparency in the mapmaking processes. 

After the census data is released the following timeline will apply:

September 1 – State Legislative maps must be redrawn and passed with both of the Democratic members of the 7 member commission voting in favor.

September 15 – If new districts can’t be reached for the 9/1 deadline, a simple majority vote can pass the new maps, but will only be in place for 4 years instead of 10 (2 State Legislative election cycles).

September 30 – Congressional maps must be redrawn and passed with a 3/5 supermajority of the State Legislature, including votes of half of each major party in both the State House and State Senate.

October 31 – If the new districts aren’t approved by 9/30, the 7 member commission will take over and their proposed maps must pass with both Democratic members and at least 2 Republican members of this commission in favor.

November 30 – If the 7 member commission fails to approve new Congressional maps, the State Legislature can pass maps with a simple majority vote (subject to gubernatorial veto), but will only be in place for 4 years (2 Congressional election cycles).

While this timeline would indicate that we should know what our new districts look like by early October for the State Legislature and early December for U.S. Congress, litigation from advocacy groups for fair maps and representation like All On The Line or the ACLU is a strong possibility.  Those in power don’t like to give it up very easily.  If and when litigation is pursued, this could push the timetable for final maps back to the end of 2021.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Public participation in the redistricting process via testimony is an important tool in our toolbox.  Compelling testimony from Ohioans puts pressure on those involved in the map making process and demonstrates that we are watching.  You can testify in person at the Statehouse once hearings are scheduled or you can prepare a written testimony to submit.

Not sure what testifying on this topic would mean?  All On The Line has workshops to help you!  Click the links below to register for training.  Although they say “Central Ohio”, “Northwest Ohio”, etc. they are virtual so you can register for any one of these dates.

Monday, Aug. 16, from 5- 7 p.m. – Central Ohio Testimony Workshop

Tuesday, Aug. 17, from 5 – 7 p.m. – Northwest Ohio Testimony Workshop

Wednesday, Aug. 18, from 5 – 7 p.m. – Northeast Ohio Testimony Workshop

Thursday, Aug. 19, from 5 – 7 p.m. – Southwest Ohio Testimony Workshop

Thursday, Aug. 19, from 5 – 7 p.m. – Southeast Ohio Testimony Workshop