After a week of closed-door negotiations that failed to reach a compromise, state lawmakers have added a rare Monday afternoon session, in case they need to vote on changing the way Ohio’s Congressional map is drawn.
Former reporter and state Rep. Mike Curtin says a deal between Republican state lawmakers, who want to keep control of drawing the map, and Democrats and citizens’ groups, who want a bipartisan commission to do it, comes down to a big compromise.
It appears there might be an agreement on redistricting here at the Statehouse. The 3 pm committee meeting is on. Lawmakers could vote it out then and put the plan on the floor tomorrow - making Wednesday's deadline for getting an issue on the May ballot.
— Jo Ingles (@joingles) February 5, 2018
“Republicans have to not split big counties unless they must for population reasons, and Democrats have to give up this ghost of so-called representational fairness,” Curtin says.
Democrats say splitting urban counties breaks up communities. But Republicans say requiring the percentage of seats for each party to match each party’s percentage of votes is gerrymandering too.
“It does not address gerrymandering," said Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio. "It does not keep communities together. And it doesn’t prohibit drawing a district map to favor or disfavor one political party. These are basic things you want in any proposal.”
Curtin says a truly fair map would be drawn based only on census population data, not on party affiliation data.
Lawmakers have until Wednesday to pass a plan if they want it on the May ballot. Meanwhile, Fair Districts continue to collect signatures to get their rival proposal on the November ballot.