Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
By J.D. Davidson
The Center Square


The first step toward Ohio redrawing congressional and legislative district maps comes Friday after Gov. Mike DeWine called the first meeting of the state’s redistricting commission.

The state is expected to receive census information on race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing occupancy down to neighborhood levels by Aug. 16 after Attorney General Dave Yost sued the U.S. Census Bureau and reached a settlement.

Federal law requires census information to be given to each state by March 31, but the U.S. Census Bureau announced in February the information would not be available until Sept. 30 because of COVID-19-related delays.

Ohio law requires a Sept. 30 deadline for drawing lines and a first vote on state maps 29 days after the U.S. Census Bureau releases redistricting information. The bureau’s original timeline to release the information would have forced the law to be broken by Ohio officials.

Yost sued, and the federal government agreed in late May to give Ohio key census information more than a month earlier than planned, allowing the state a better opportunity to meet its constitutional requirements for redistricting.

Ohio voters created the Ohio Redistricting Commission in 2018. The commission consists of the governor, auditor, secretary of state and appointments from Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. This will be the first time redistricting will be done in Ohio using the system.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has sued to force Republican lawmakers to turn over records related to redistricting it says it asked for five months ago and never received.

House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, and Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, have not responded to open records request made in February, the lawsuit said. The ACLU said the records will help it monitor the redistricting process.