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Ohio House passes new congressional district map on party-line vote

(The Center Square) – Ohio lawmakers will go back to the drawing board in four years to create new congressional district maps after the House cleared new districts Thursday on a straight party-line vote.

The House vote followed the same partisan vote earlier this week in the Senate. The proposed congressional map now awaits a signature from Gov. Mike DeWine. Because the plan lacked Democratic support, new lines will have to be redrawn in four years, rather than the traditional 10.

Republicans said the map was the most competitive proposed and called it historic by keeping seven of Ohio’s eight largest cities contained within congressional boundaries for the first time in 50 years. Cincinnati is in one district for the first time in 100 years.

Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Youngstown, Toledo, Cincinnati and Dayton all stay combined in one district. Only Columbus, the state’s largest city, will be split because its population exceeds the limit for a single district.

“The congressional map approved today is fair, thoughtful and, most importantly, constitutional. It ensures all Ohioans have a voice in Washington,” House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, said. “The General Assembly partnered with Ohio voters in 2018 to reform Ohio’s congressional redistricting process. Ohio now has some of the most prescriptive anti-gerrymandering guardrails in America. This is a historic plan that is the result of much deliberation and public input. It will serve Ohio and its people well.”

Democrats disagreed, blasting Republicans for failing to keep communities together and claiming the new districts favor the GOP, 13-2.

“Ohioans and Democrats wanted to see a bipartisan, 10-year map, but as the process unfolded, it was clear Republicans had no intention of negotiating a compromise in good faith,” House Minority Leader Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, said. “Instead, Republicans betrayed Ohio voters by passing a gerrymandered district map that splits apart communities and unduly favors Republicans 13-2. This partisan map dismisses concerns raised by citizens over a number of months and disrespects the voters who demanded fair maps.”

“This disastrous map is a result of failed Republican leadership, who time and again show they are unfit to lead our state," she said. "Republicans are teeing up a veto from the governor or a referendum by the people of Ohio who expected more from their government.”

Democrats offered an alternative map Thursday on the House floor. They said it limited splits in some of the state’s largest counties, but the amendment was tabled.

Democrats sent a letter to DeWine after the map's passage, urging him to veto the new maps.

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