By Julie Carr SmythAssociated Press


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The panel charged with making new maps of Ohio’s political districts is poised to miss another deadline.

Republican House Speaker Bob Cupp, who chairs the Ohio Redistricting Commission, said Thursday’s meeting would be the panel’s last before its initial deadline Sunday for passing a bipartisan congressional map. No vote was scheduled.

The Republican-controlled commission previously missed its Sept. 1 deadline for drawing maps of districts for the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, then pushed four-year legislative maps through in a partisan vote at the last minute. Those maps are now the subject of three separate lawsuits moving through the Ohio Supreme Court, where oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 8.

Congressional map-making was punted to the commission when state lawmakers, too, missed a deadline for drawing new districts. New districts must be redrawn every 10 years to reflect new census figures. This year’s results, which took Ohio from 16 to 15 U.S. House seats, were delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Voting rights advocates, including the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, planned to rally at the Statehouse after Thursday’s meeting to protest the perpetual thwarting of redistricting deadlines. Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved them as part of constitutional amendments overhauling the state’s redistricting process that were passed 2015 and 2018, respectively.

By missing this latest deadline, the commission sends the congressional map-making process back to the Ohio General Assembly, where Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers.

The Legislature now has until Nov. 30 to approve a new map. A three-fifths majority of each chamber, including at least half of Democrats, is required to pass a 10-year map. Passage by a simple majority will yield a map good for only four years.