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Group seeks decision from federal court to keep Ohio House, Senate races on May primary ballot

voting machines for an election
Daniel Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Voting machines stand by after Ohio's March 17, 2020, primary election had been postponed. What the May 3, 2022, primary will look like will depend on a federal court's decision about whether a third set of legislative maps, which have been rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court, can be used.

A final decision could be coming on whether a federal court will intervene to keep the Ohio primary May 3.

A group wants the latest House and Senate maps that were ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court to be used this election year anyway, and a new filing in its lawsuit seeks to force an end to the legislative redistricting saga.

The group, which includes lobbyist and Ohio Right to Life president Mike Gonidakis and former state representative Margaret Conditt, is asking a panel of three federal judges to put into place the third set of invalidated state House and Senate maps approved by Republicans on the redistricting commission earlier this month.

The group said in its filing if the federal court implements those maps for the next five days, the full May primary can go on as scheduled. But without that action, the group says “the shark has been jumped.”

The group had asked for the second set of maps to be implemented, but since that filing in February, the third set has been approved and rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court. The case had been paused while the federal court waited on a decision, and once it came down, the group asked Chief Judge Algenon Marbley to refer the case to Chief US Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton to appoint a three-judge panel. He appointed Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amul Thapar and Judge Benjamin Beaton to serve alongside Marbley.

President Donald Trump appointed Thapar and Beaton. Thapar was Trump's first Court of Appeals appointment, and President Bill Clinton appointed Marbley.

Sec. of State Frank LaRose, one of the Republicans on the redistricting commission who voted for the invalidated maps, had ordered those legislative races removed from the May ballot, but said supplemental ballots could be used if the federal court takes action. In its filing, the group says “the public interest overwhelmingly favors voting in imperfect districts instead of no districts at all.”

While some Democrats have proposed moving the primary, no Republicans have endorsed the idea.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.