Voter rights groups sue over Ohio GOP’s congressional map


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Lawsuits are accumulating against Ohio’s new congressional map, just as they did for GOP-drawn maps of new legislative districts, as voting and civil-rights groups allege partisan gerrymandering against the state’s ruling Republicans.

The latest suit comes from the Ohio arms of the League of Women Voters and the A. Philip Randolph Institute on behalf of a group of voters. The groups’ lawyers told the Ohio Supreme Court in a filing Tuesday that “it is indisputable” that the 15-district map of U.S. House districts “’unduly’ favors the Republican Party.”

By their calculations, the map includes 10 safe Republican districts, two safe Democratic districts and three “arguably competitive” districts that actually favor Republicans. That’s 67% of seats, despite only 54% of Ohio voters leaning toward the GOP, the lawsuit said.

Republicans have called the map constitutional, fair and competitive.

It’s the second lawsuit filed against the map since it sprinted through the Ohio Statehouse last month, passing without Democratic support and going on to be signed days later by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine. Because it lacked support from Democrats, the map will hold for just four years, rather than the typical 10.

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee’s legal arm filed its own constitutional challenge Nov. 22. That litigation contends the map leans 12-3 in favor of Republicans, though the GOP describes it as 6-2, with the remaining seven districts being competitive.

Both suits target DeWine and the other members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, rather than the Legislature. Voters empowered the commission with a potentially pivotal role in approving Ohio’s legislative and congressional district maps.

But it missed its deadline for approving a congressional map without taking a vote, giving the opportunity back to the Legislature approve it and send it on to DeWine.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the legislative maps on Wednesday.

By Julie Carr Smyth

Associated Press

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