Given the redistribution deadline, Republicans are releasing a statehouse card

In less than a week to draft a final map for the House and Senate districts, Republican lawmakers presented a map that would allow the GOP to retain a veto-proof majority.

Republicans could retain 67 of 99 seats in the Ohio House and 25 of 33 seats in the Ohio Senate, according to analysis from Dave’s Redistricting App, a commonly used redistricting app that assigns partisan designations based on recent election results. Based on the analysis of this website, 16.5% of the house districts and 19.8% of the Senate districts would be competitive – defined as biased between 45% and 55%.

Republicans currently hold 64 of the 99 seats in the Ohio House of Representatives and 24 of the 33 seats in the Ohio Senate.

Voter-approved amendments to the Ohio Constitution added guard rails as cartographers draw districts for the Ohio House and Senate. The Commission must try to draw a map that does not primarily favor a political party, is compact and corresponds to the national distribution of democratic and republican votes.

Still, Republican leaders say they never analyzed the partisan balance of their proposed maps for the House and Senate districts. Ohio Redistricting Commission co-chair Vernon Sykes, a Democratic senator from Akron, said he doesn’t believe them.

“I do not blame the House Speaker or any Senate President for applying the rules as best he can to shape the counties to help their cause,” Sykes said. “I find it insincere to show this commission a card and to say that it is unaware of it and has not considered it at all.”

More:What the U.S. Census data tells us about how Ohio’s congressional and statehouse maps are made

Over the past 10 years, the statewide total of votes has split, on average, with about 55% of the vote for Republican candidates and 45% of the vote for Democratic candidates. Former President Barack Obama’s victory in 2012 was a good year for the Democrats, while 2014 was a great year for the Republican candidates.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima said drawing a map with this breakdown would amount to gerrymandering.

“The definition of gerrymandering is to design districts to benefit a particular political party. So if we just say we have to do this so that 55% of the seats in the Ohio House of Representatives are Republican, that’s gerrymandering, ”Huffman said.

House spokesman Bob Cupp, R-Lima, said the portion of the Ohio Constitution that deals with map compliance with recent statewide results is a “goal worth pursuing.”

“Opinions differ as to whether this is an intended goal or a required goal if you don’t meet all of the other criteria,” said Cupp, commission co-chair.

Watch the race

Republican map makers didn’t consider racial or demographic data when compiling their maps, said Ray DiRossi, Republican finance director in the Senate. He said GOP card makers have been instructed by lawmakers not to consider racial or demographic data.

“It’s illegal to use breeds in drawing districts,” Huffman later said. “This is a violation of federal law.”

The minority leader in the house, Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, asked how the proposed card could comply with the voting rights law without considering race.

“You can use race as a criterion. It just can’t be the only criterion,” said Deidra Reese of the Ohio Unity Coalition. Reese said she felt invisible and unheard if she didn’t consider race. “If you can’t use race to break up a district in order to reduce the influence of a color community, how can you not look at race?”

Ohioans who testified Thursday morning expressed frustration at both the GOP card and the secret process that led to it. They called the card-making process a “sham”, “an insult to democracy” and “more fascist than democratic”.

Ohio Democratic Party leader Liz Walters has blown up the GOP created cards.

“Not only are these cards unacceptable, they’re offensive to the Ohioans, who have twice voted overwhelmingly for fair display,” Walters said in a statement. “Ohioans are fed up with politicians voting for their constituents, not the other way around.”

What’s next?

Scroll down to see the suggested cards

The seven-person Ohio Redistricting Commission is on a tight schedule to approve a card for those representing the residents of the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

More:Ohio uses a new method to draw state congressional districts. This is how it works

The commission must allow the public to comment on the card at hearings across the state. The commission plans to meet at 4 p.m. on Sunday in Dayton, on Monday at 4 p.m. in Cleveland, and on Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Columbus. Exact locations were not known on Thursday afternoon.

To approve a 10-year card, the commission needs “yes” votes from four of the seven members, including both Democrats on the commission. If no compromise can be reached, four members could agree to a card that is valid for four years.

The Commission has missed its first deadline for presenting a card and is approaching its final deadline for approving a card: September 15th.

More:Ohio Redistricting Commission, which will miss the first deadline, cannot agree on who will draw cards

In the meantime, Ohio lawmakers have until September 30th to approve a 10-year card for congressional districts. Voters approved changes to prevent overgrown districts like the so-called “snake on the lake” that stretches from Toledo to Cleveland.

Proposed house card

Proposed Senate card

Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch, and 18 other affiliate news organizations across Ohio.

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