Ohio redistricting panel charts course to 4th map proposal

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Redistricting Commission has decided to look for two independent mapmakers and a mediator to help come up with new district maps following the Ohio Supreme Court’s rejection of a third set of maps presented by the Republican-dominated panel.

The commission decided Saturday afternoon to seek recommendations for the two independent mapmakers to join the four mapmakers already working with Republican and Democratic lawmakers in drafting a fourth set of maps for Ohio House and Ohio Senate districts. A mediator is to be sought to help resolve disputes.

The seven-member commission hopes to approve the choices in a Monday night meeting, but the current mapmakers and one staff member of each commissioner are to immediately begin meeting to identify “complex issues” and areas of agreement and disagreement to be presented to the independent mapmakers and the mediator. All are ordered to follow state high court rulings and the state constitution.

The state’s highest court last week in a 4-3 vote rejected the last plan even as final ballots were being prepared for the May 3 primary, ordering new maps submitted to the secretary of state by March 28 and filed with the court the following day.

Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a moderate Republican who has repeatedly joined court Democrats to invalidate the maps, cited “substantial and compelling evidence” that “the main goal of the individuals who drafted the second revised plan was to favor the Republican Party and disfavor the Democratic Party.”

Of particular concern, the court said, was the fact that Republicans have all three times drafted the plan approved by the commission without input from Democratic members of the bipartisan commission.

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