The grassroots Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission (OCRC) slammed Ohio Republicans on Tuesday following the release of their updated congressional map proposal which would make 13 of the Ohio’s 15 congressional districts favor the GOP in a state already trending conservative and more MAGA.

The OCRC and other voting rights activists say the updated map was tweaked behind closed doors and rushed into an Ohio Senate vote which easily passed. (The updated map pictured above left.)

“The passed map fails to uphold any of the basic tenets of a fair map – it does not keep our communities together in representative, sensible districts. It does not reflect how we vote, giving the GOP 80% of our seats in a state where they win just 54% of the vote,” said OCRC spokesperson Katy Shanahan to the Free Press. “It dilutes the power of communities of color to elect representatives of their choosing. It does not live up to the promise or demands of our reform nor the letter of the law.”

Of the two proposed districts that do favor Democrats, one of those is District 3 within Franklin County, encompassing its north and east sides. The proposed District 3 removes parts of Franklin County’s west and southsides from the current District 3 map, which has been held by US Rep. Joyce Beatty since 2013.

The OCRC, backed by the Ohio Organizing Collaborative and the Ohio NAACP, re-released their own “unity” congressional map (pictured above on right) on Tuesday as well. Their proposed map creates 7 Democratic-leaning districts and 8 Republican-leaning districts. The OCRC stated “Ohioans voted roughly 46% Democrat and 54% Republican during the last election, and our congressional map must reflect this reality.”

The OCRC and other voting rights advocates say the Ohio GOP’s new congressional map may be more gerrymandered than the current map which has given Republicans a 12-4 advantage over the previous decade (Ohio lost a congressional district post 2020 census). Princeton University weighed in on the Ohio GOP’s proposed congressional map, it’s Gerrymandering Project giving the map an “F”.

Making Ohio Dems cringe more is how Ohio citizens voted twice, in 2015 and 2018, to change the state’s constitution to make the map drawing process fairer and more transparent. The Ohio constitution states no district plan shall be adopted that “unduly favors or disfavors a political party or its incumbents.” In other words, no congressional map should include partisan gerrymandering.

The good news is these amendments led to anti-gerrymandering policies which limit maps that don’t receive bi-partisan support to 4 years instead of 10. Thus, the Ohio GOP’s proposed congressional map should expire after the 2024 elections.

The 13-2 advantaged map heads to the GOP-dominated Ohio House later this week where it will easily pass, and then forwarded to Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. He most certainly will sign, and thus surreptitiously appease MAGA Ohioans who have called for his head due to what they believe was his over-cautious pandemic response. DeWine faces a primary challenge in 2022.

“The Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission is deeply disappointed in the rigged congressional map voted out of the Senate (Tuesday) and introduced by the majority party less than 14 hours before Ohioans had their opportunity to testify. In addition to privileging one party, this map also cracks and packs communities of color, diluting the power of our votes and depriving us of fair representation,” stated Jeniece Brock, OCRC vice-chair and Policy and Advocacy Director of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, in a press release.

Brock, who resides in Summit County (Akron), stated her county is currently divided into four congressional districts and that none of her representatives over the past decade have actually lived in Summit County.

“Our congressional maps should ensure that communities like mine in Akron have fair representation,” she stated. “The OCRC’s process resulted in maps that reflect statewide voter preference and keeps communities together, while fairly representing the interests of Black, brown, and immigrant Ohioans. Our commission knows that Ohioans deserve better than partisan-rigged maps drawn in secrecy without regard for adequate citizen input.”