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Public Testimony Could Help Shape Ohio's Congressional Districts


The Ohio Redistricting Commission will soon start work on drawing the state’s next legislative maps.

But first the commission will hold several public meetings across the state to gather testimony on how state’s House and Senate districts should look.

The commission will use data from the 2020 Census to draw the state’s 99 House and 33 Senate districts.

Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, said the public testimony will give people the chance to make sure their voices are heard.

“To tell the map makers what they want. And we know that they want a process that is fair and open and allows public participation and transparency. We know they want maps that are fair and not rigged for hyper-partisan outcomes,” Miller said.

A decade ago, after the last Census, the Commission crafted the state legislative maps that will be in place until 2023.

Miller thinks today people are more invested in the map making process than they were the last time the districts were drawn.

“One thing that I think is different this time is a lot of people understand gerrymandering. And they understand how the rigging of legislative maps for partisan outcomes harms them," she said. "And so, I think more people can show up and talk about the map making process than 10 years ago.”

Miller says there are resources for people to make their own legislative maps.

“Folks can bring a community map or their own district map to be considered. There's lots of free programs now that can be used by the general public to bring something to talk about in terms of how they think their county should be represented or their town should be represented,” she said.

In an ideal world, public testimony would come after draft legislative maps are drawn, Miller said, but that’s not how the system works.

“I certainly, absolutely, would love if they did field hearings around the state after we had maps proposed so that the public could engage,” she said.

Miller sees this opportunity for public testimony as vital.

“I think this is the first chance that the general public has to talk to mapmakers and explain to them how important our democracy is, how important elections are. And why we need fair maps that are really designed to come here and honor the voices of voters, rather than having political parties rig the maps for their own personal interests,” she said.

The seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission is made up of five republicans, including Gov. Mike DeWine and House Speaker Bob Cupp, and two democrats House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and her father, Sen. Vern Sykes.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission public hearing schedule:

  • Monday, Aug. 23, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Cleveland State University
  • Monday, Aug. 23, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Youngstown State University
  • Tuesday, Aug. 24, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Sinclair Community College
  • Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., University of Cincinnati
  • Wednesday, Aug. 25, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Ohio University - Zanesville
  • Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., Rio Grande Community College
  • Thursday, Aug. 26, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Ohio State University – Lima
  • Thursday, Aug. 26, 2:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m., University of Toledo
  • Friday, Aug. 27, 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., University of Akron
  • Friday, Aug. 27, 2:30 - 5:30 p.m., Ohio State University – Mansfield

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Mark has been a host, reporter and producer at several NPR member stations in Delaware, Alaska, Washington and Kansas. His reporting has taken him everywhere from remote islands in the Bering Sea to the tops of skyscrapers overlooking Puget Sound. He is a diehard college basketball fan who enjoys taking walks with his dog, Otis.