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Politics

Ohio Redistricting Commission wants outside help with mapmaking process

 Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), commissioner co-chair, talks about the Ohio Redistricting Commission's next moves after a March 21, 2022 meeting.
Andy Chow
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), commissioner co-chair, talks about the Ohio Redistricting Commission's next moves after a March 21, 2022 meeting.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission agreed to call in two outside consultants to join the mapmaking process for new state House and Senate districts.

The commission is poised to hire two national experts on redistricting but first, commissioners want the consultants to come to Ohio and fill out disclosure forms to reveal possible conflicts of interest.

The two consultants suggested were Douglas Johnson, National Demographics Corporation president, and Michael McDonald, University of Florida political science professor.

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) suggested Johnson, and Sen. Vernon Sykes (D-Akron) suggested McDonald.

The commission is looking at beginning a new mapmaking process after their third attempt at state legislative maps was rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Watch: Ohio Redistricting Commission meets Monday evening

That new process would see the Republican and Democratic caucus mapmakers work together on one plan. Previously those mapmakers have drafted separate plans, with the commission only adopting the Republican-drawn maps. Every map the commission has adopted has only received votes from Republican members.

Cupp says the independent outside consultants was part of the last supreme court ruling.

"They might look at it with different eyes, they might have suggestions that haven't been looked at before, and also they would be working for the commission itself," says Cupp.

The details on who should be hired as consultants, do they have conflicts of interest, how much would they cost, and how soon could they get to Ohio dominated the Monday evening commission meeting.

The commission went into recess for part of the evening to get some of those questions answered.

The process to even bring consultants to Ohio seemed to take up the little time the commission has left to adopt new maps, a concern voiced by Auditor Keith Faber (R-Ohio).

"It certainly adds more time to a ticking clock but when the court issued those orders they had to anticipate that they were creating additional procedural suggestions that were going to slow the process," says Faber.

In a court filing Monday, the Democratic members of the commission asked the Ohio Supreme Court to move the primary date from May 3 to June 28. Commission members are asked to file their response to that request by Wednesday morning.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.