Making Democracy Work


Redistricting Yields New Ohio Legislative Maps Without Bipartisan Support

Shortly after midnight with a 5-2 vote along party lines, Republicans approved a four-year map that would likely secure a supermajority for their party. We look at Ohio's new state legislative maps and the process that got us here.

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Fair Districts Ohio Express Frustration over the Newly Approved Ohio House & Senate Districts

COLUMBUS-- Leaders of the Fair Districts Ohio coalition expressed disappointment and dissatisfaction over the newly approved Ohio House and Senate district maps and the Ohio Redistricting Commission's process to approve the maps over intense public criticism. At nearly midnight, the Ohio Redistricting Commission voted to approve extreme gerrymandered maps along partisan lines that will be enacted for four years.

"Ohio voters expected a transparent process with public deliberation," said Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio. "The Ohio Redistricting Commission heard from hundreds of Ohioans about their frustration with backroom deals and the need for greater transparency. Rather than responding to the criticism, the Commission met briefly this morning and recessed for further negotiation out of the public eye. The Commission didn't reconvene until forty-five minutes before the midnight deadline and then enacted a map along party lines that disregards the letter and spirit of the reforms passed in 2015. We are disappointed in both the process and the result."

"The Ohio Redistricting Commission missed a momentous opportunity to restore faith in our democratic republic," said Jen Miller of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, "Ohioans passed redistricting reform in 2015 and 2018 with over 70% of the vote and then showed up in droves pleading for a transparent, bipartisan process that would result in fair, representative maps. Instead, Ohioans got more of the same: a breakdown in the bipartisan process and maps that serve the short-sighted interests of political parties, not voters. Ohioans deserve better."

Fair Districts Ohio is still reviewing the Ohio House and Senate maps and considering next steps, including possible litigation and ballot initiatives in the future. In the meantime, Fair Districts Ohio calls upon Ohio lawmakers to begin a more transparent and deliberative public process that results in bipartisan Congressional districts that keep communities together and put the needs of voters first.


Fair Districts Ohio held a press conference this morning and discussed the Senate Democrats' proposed General Assembly maps. The conference featured analysis from Dr. Chris Cusack, Professor Emeritus of Geography (Keene State College) and a breakdown from Dr. Brian Glassman, Legal Writing Professor Emeritus (Cleveland Marshall College of Law) on the constitutionality of the map and the process moving forward. Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio and Jen Miller of League of Women Voters of Ohio also spoke on the redistricting process and steps moving forward to ensure fair maps and fair districts for Ohio.

"With the new redistricting rules in place, we have a right to expect mapmaking to be different in 2021 than it was in 2011. The Ohio Redistricting Commission should not be crafting and reviewing maps in secret," said Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio. "The Ohio Redistricting Commission needs to identify how the members are going to work together and announce a new timeline for mapmaking including more than 24 hours notice for each hearing and a complete schedule of public hearings so citizen advocates can fully prepare to participate in a meaningful way."

"More than a thousand Ohioans showed up at field hearings last week asking the Ohio Redistricting Commission for a fair, transparent process and maps that truly represent them. Instead, the Commission has missed its first deadline without even setting forth a clear process for reviewing maps or a proposed deadline for making up for lost time," said Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. "We are also concerned that the Ohio General Assembly may miss its first deadline, given they have not even begun the process. We call on mapmakers to get to work right away through a transparent, robust process that truly meets the expectations of Ohio Voters."

"The rules for redistricting are set forth in the Ohio Constitution and clarified by federal law. It is essential that the leaders of our redistricting process communicate clearly and accurately about the rules and the process," said Dr. Brian Glassman, Legal Writing Professor Emeritus.

"A top level empirical analysis of the General Assembly map plan presented by the Senate Democrats shows they adhered to the prescribed constitutional criteria. This map could serve as a starting point as the Ohio Redistricting Commission begins their negotiations," said Dr. Chris Cusack, Professor Emeritus of Geography, Keene State College.

Click here to download a PDF of the slides presented at the conference.

Fair Districts Ohio is a non-partisan team of voter advocates and organizations working to create a more equitable, functioning democracy by campaigning for fair state legislative and congressional maps. Without the efforts of these nonpartisan voices for redistricting reform, Ohio voters would not have adopted reforms to the map-drawing process in 2015 and 2018 in all 88 counties and with more than 70% of the vote.

State Legislative Update

While the Ohio Legislature is still on summer break, Governor DeWine has finally convened the Ohio Redistricting Commission. It began the work of the public input process last week with a series of 10 town-hall style meetings across the state. Ohioans from every region, representing a wide range of backgrounds and demographics, voiced their demand for fair legislative districts. New maps have not yet been publicly shared, nor are Ohioans privy to how exactly they are being drawn. Rather, public discussion and comments centered around current maps and desires for future hypothetical maps.

Amidst confusion as to how and by whom a new district map would be drawn, the Redistricting Commission met today (August 31) to adopt rules. The Commission is set to miss its September 1 deadline to introduce a legislative district map, but can still approve a 10-year map by the final September 15 deadline with majority approval and support from the group's only two Democrats. The seven-member group can pass a 4-year map with a simple majority vote.

While it is believed that both Republicans and Democrats are drawing their own maps behind closed doors, Speaker Cupp noted that the commission would accept premade maps from lawmakers' staffs, good government groups and the public, and pick one of those maps that meets constitutional requirements to put forth for public comment. According to the rules adopted today, a commission-backed map must receive three public hearings on separate days and in different cities, after which the commission would revise the map based on public input.

The Legislature has until September 30 to approve bi-partisan congressional district maps.

What can you do to fight for fair districts?

Sign up to attend Fair Maps Day at the Ohio Statehouse

Sign the petition to demand Fair Districts now!

Two Exciting Announcements from Fair Districts

1. The Ohio Redistricting Commission has set up a website with details about hearing locations and how to submit testimony. Access the Ohio Redistricting Commission website HERE.

The website has info you need about:

  • Meeting locations and parking;
  • How to submit written testimony;
  • Resources;
  • and
  • How to view the hearings online.
  • We are encouraging everyone to attend these ten public hearings if at all possible! If you plan to testify in person, submit written testimony, or just show up for support, let us know by filling out this form. We will send you additional resources and also can review your testimony before you submit if you like. Send draft testimony to If you have already submitted testimony, we are working through a lot submissions and will get back to you as soon as possible.

    2. Fair Districts today launched its state legislative mapping competition! Access the Fair Districts Mapping Competition website HERE.

    A few details:

  • The deadline for submission for Ohio House and Senate maps is midnight on Sept. 6.
  • Prizes are as follows: First Place $1000, Second Place $500, Third Place $250
  • Everyone who submits a complete and compliant map or set of maps will be entered into a drawing for a cash gift card. We are awarding ten $25 gift cards. (You can only win once!)
  • We encourage mappers to use DistrictR, DistrictBuilder, or Dave's Redistricting App, although maps drawn with any software will be accepted
  • Technical assistance available from Fair Districts
  • FYI: We'll be launching the U.S. congressional mapping competition early next week, with a submission deadline of September 15 at midnight.

    Save the Date for Fair Maps: September 21 at the Statehouse

    The Ohio Redistricting Commission had its first meeting last Friday (8/6), and Census data is set to be delivered this coming Thursday (8/12). In other words, Ohio's official mapmaking process is finally getting underway -- and it's more important than ever to say with one voice: We demand Fair Maps!

    That's why we're asking each and every one of you to sign and share this petition.

    We also want you to mark your calendars for a full day of action in Columbus on Tuesday, September 21:

    Fair Maps Day is going to be our biggest, most important in-person event as we come together from all across Ohio to demand fair maps!

    We are planning a combination press conference, march, action, lobby day, and show of force that official mapmakers will not be able to ignore. Imagine the Ohio Statehouse filled with Fair District advocates from all over Ohio! We're counting on you -- the Ohioans who have been in the fight from the beginning -- to show up and speak up for fair districts!

    We have a full day of action planned (10AM-2PM), including scheduled lobby visits, a march around the statehouse, speeches and more. Check out the event schedule and additional information HERE. We are asking each and every one of you to join us!

    We are inviting Fair Maps activists from every county in Ohio. As soon as you register, we can get to work scheduling lobby visits for you to meet one-on-one with your legislators to drive home how much you care about fair maps. We'll provide training and talking points to make your visit as effective as possible. We will also be encouraging participants to attend committee hearings.

    For maximum impact, we'll be wearing coordinated Fair Maps t-shirts, and we'll have banners and signs for you to hold and wave. We plan to be seen and heard so legislators cannot ignore our message.


    The fight for fair districts is now! Please join us.

    Thanks for all you do,

    Mia Lewis for Common Cause Ohio and Fair Districts

    P.S. In case you missed it, check out this opinion piece from Catherine Turcer about the need for fair maps and a fair redistricting process.

    Update and Action from Fair Districts

    This morning the Ohio Redistricting Commission held its first meeting. They adjourned after just 15 minutes, after naming the appointed members of the commission, as follows:

  • Senate President Matt Huffman (appointed himself)
  • Speaker Bob Cupp (appointed himself)
  • Senator Vern Sykes (appointed by Senate Minority Leader Yuko)
  • House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (appointed herself)
  • These appointed members join Governor DeWine, Secretary of State LaRose, and Auditor Faber. The Commission will be co-chaired by Republican Speaker Bob Cupp and Democratic Senator Vern Sykes.

    President Huffman announced that there will be nine public hearings about the state legislative maps -- but we have no details about time or location of the meetings. AND, we still do not know when or how the commission plans to set up a submission portal for citizen-created maps.

    Right now, all of us who care about fair maps NEED TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON! Join us in taking two important actions right now:

  • Sign a petition to official mapmakers telling them we demand fair maps and a fair map-making process.
  • Send an email to your lawmakers and the members of the Redistricting Commission asking them to set up the submission portal for citizen-drawn maps.
  • Please sign the petition even if you have signed one before! And please share both of these actions as widely as possible! Now is when pressure is the most important.

    FYI, yesterday we learned map-making may get underway even sooner than we expected, as the Census will be releasing data on August 12 (instead of 16). Immediate action from our official mapmakers is even more important.

    Thank you for all that you do,

    Mia Lewis, Common Cause Ohio for Fair Districts

    Volunteers Needed: Postcard Blast

    Postcards are being sent to the 7 members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission and to your own State Rep and State Senator. Yard Signs are also available. Members are invited to help out by contacting Nancy Gurney at

    Fair Districts Yard Signs Have Arrived!

    Signs are now at volunteer distribution locations around the state. Find the closest place near you by using this handy Fair Districts sign location map. Zoom in to your general location to find contact information for a sign distributor near you. Contact the volunteer directly to arrange for a time you can pick up your sign. (Folks who can't find a spot near them on the map can fill out this form or be in touch with us by email.)

    Tell Ohio Mapmakers to Get to Work

    Send postcards telling Ohio mapmakers to tell them, "Ohioans want fair districts!" Order cards HERE and see instructions HERE.

    And/or, call your Ohio Representative and Senator to tell them to get to work on redistricting! You can use the points listed in the instructions above, and look up their contact information HERE.

    Voting Rights Advocates Call on Ohio General Assembly and Ohio Redistricting Commission to Begin Map-Making Process in Light of New Census Schedule

    COLUMBUS- Today, Fair Districts Ohio - the leading nonpartisan voice for redistricting reform - sent a letter to Ohio mapmakers with specific recommendations to ensure transparent and fair mapmaking in light of adjusted delivery date for Census data.

    "In 2015 and 2018, Ohio leaders worked with voter advocates to craft new redistricting processes that were overwhelmingly supported by Ohioans across the state," said Jen Miller of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. "Now we must work together again to fulfill the promise of those reforms. Let's start now by reworking timelines in light of the new Census schedule and hosting public hearings where experts and voters can speak to the need for fair maps."

    Click here for the link to Fair Districts' recommendations

    "Map-makers and the public need a clear game plan based on information from experts and the public. It's time to start public hearings so that we can determine how to make the map-making process work best," said Sam Gresham of Common Cause Ohio.

    "In untenable circumstances such as this, it is reasonable and legally possible for a court to grant relief," added Professor Jessie Hill, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development at Case Western School of Law.

    "Deciding how Ohio proceeds with the new redistricting timeline should be as transparent as possible to give Ohioans confidence in this historically secretive process. This is an opportunity for map-makers to show the people that their voices are heard and their votes matter. Redistricting needs to start now, " said Collin Marozzi of ACLU Ohio

    About Fair Districts Ohio: Fair Districts Ohio is led by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio in partnership with ACLU Ohio, Ohio Council of Churches, A. Philip Randolph Institute, and many more. Without the efforts of these nonpartisan voices for redistricting reform, Ohio would not have adopted reforms to the map-drawing process in 2015 and 2018 without our efforts.

    Background About Census Data: This year Ohio maps will be drawn with new rules and a new redistricting process for state legislative and congressional map-making. In February, the Census Bureau announced that the detailed census information will be available to all states on September 30. The state of Ohio demanded that the Census Bureau provide needed data by the end of March. On March 23, Census Acting Director Ron Jarmin told the US Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that detailed data necessary for map-making will be sent to states by September 30, and that the Census Bureau will provide less user-friendly "legacy data" in August. On March 24, a federal judge rebuffed the state of Ohio's lawsuit to garner census data by March 31. The state almost immediately appealed. The 6th Circuit panel of Judges Martha Craig Daughtrey, David McKeague & Amul Thapar will hear the appeal and a ruling is not expected until mid-April at the earliest.

    People Powered Fair Maps

    People Powered Fair Maps™ is a national redistricting program of the League of Women Voters focused on creating fair political maps nationwide in all 50 states + D.C. In June of 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Rucho v. League of Women Voters of North Carolina that no fair test exists for courts to determine when partisan gerrymandering has gone too far. As a result, federal courts will be hands-off in the redistricting process even when new district lines are drawn to intentionally decrease the voting power of voters based solely on their political party. People Powered Fair Maps was launched in September 2019 to create fair and transparent, people-powered redistricting processes that eliminate partisan and racial gerrymandering nationwide. for more information of the redistricting process click here