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Ohio Senate approves new Congressional district map

 Voter rights advocates scrutinize the Congressional district map Republican lawmakers. proposed
Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Voter rights advocates scrutinize the Congressional district map Republican lawmakers proposed.

A Republican-drawn Congressional district map is moving forward after the Senate approved the plan by a party-line vote.

Senate Republican leaders say their new Congressional map creates six districts that heavily favor Republicans, two that favor Democrats, and seven "competitive" seats.

Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) said that political breakdown might not mean much as he noted that elections can be unpredictable and the outcome can depend on the candidate.

"We should really be careful about drawing bright lines here and deciding that these bright lines are the end-all be-all arbiter of how these districts and these races are going to shake out, cause that's not how elections work," McColley said.

But voter rights groups fired back at the notion that those seven districts are competitive, with other analysts showing just three of those districts are within a 5% margin between Republican and Democratic voters.

According to "Dave's Redistricting," an analytical tool, the Congressional district map proposal creates five districts where Republican voters outnumber Democratic voters by more than 20%, and two districts where Republican voters outnumber Democratic voters by more than 10%.

There are six districts where the margin between registered Republicans and Democrats is below 10%. Of those districts, five lean in favor of Republicans.

There are only two districts in the Congressional map approved by the Ohio Senate that heavily favor Democrats. Those districts are in Franklin County and Cuyahoga County. The Cleveland-area Congressional district has a 78% to 19% split for Democrats. The Columbus-area Congressional district gives Democratic voters a 68% to 29% advantage over Republican voters.

Katy Shanahan, Ohio state director for All On The Line, says Republican leaders failed to follow the anti-gerrymandering reforms passed by voters in 2018.

"Unfortunately, the Republicans have throughout the entirety of this process sent Ohioans a much different message. They don't care," said Shanahan, whose group is funded by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

The map now head to the House for a potential floor vote later this week.
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow
Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.