Ohio Looks Ahead to Redistricting with One Less Seat in Congress
The first release of data this week from the U.S. Census Bureau on last year’s head count confirmed speculation that Ohio will be losing one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives next year due to reapportionment. While Ohio’s population did grow, it did not keep pace with other parts of the country.
Jen Miller, executive director of the League Of Women Voters of Ohio says the loss of the seat should serve as a reminder for Ohioans about how important mapmaking is when it comes to congressional districts.
“This is a big year for Ohio. In 2018 Ohio voters passed some reforms on the ballot by 75% of voters in all 88 counties, reforms that would improve the way we make congressional maps,” Miller said. “And I think this will be really interesting, how mapmakers navigate the loss of a seat, but also uphold the letter and spirit of those reforms which require more bipartisanship, transparency, and public participation.”
The 2018 reforms were in part a reaction to the secretive way the districts were redrawn 10 years ago. Miller says "Ohioans want fair maps." She says it's clear to many residents that the current maps don't actually serve them, that "lawmakers are guaranteed their seats" and therefore don't listen to the needs of the constituents. She says it's up to the residents of Ohio to hold the mapmakers for the new districts accountable "to the letter and spirt of those reforms."
Not a partisan issue
Congressman Tim Ryan (D) announced earlier this week he would seek the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Rob Portman (R). Ryan has shown interest previously in advance in politics. He made an an unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination for President. Political watchers have speculated that his district could be on the chopping block if Ohio lost a congressional seat, as it has.
Miller says the non-partisan League of Women Voters is not interested in where the seat is cut. She says what they care about is that the map is fair for every Ohio voter.
She does go on to say that the previous loss of congressional seats has been used as an excuse to “rig the map in a way that the parties get to pick their voters rather than the other way around.” She hopes that's not used as an excuse this time for what she calls "racial or partisan gerrymandering" but becomes part of the conversation ensuring the maps are fairly drawn.
Leagues of Women Voters are calling for days of action this week to highlight the significance of redistricting. Miller urges voters to take action by reaching out to their local and state legislators.
Ohioans can find out more by visiting The Ohio League of Women Voters website and searching for local events and resources.