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Government & Politics

Ohio Supreme Court dismisses one redistricting-related lawsuit, others still pending

Ohio House and Ohio Senate district maps adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission by a vote of 4-3 on February 24, 2022
Ohio Redistricting Commission
Ohio House and Ohio Senate district maps adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission by a vote of 4-3 on February 24, 2022

The Ohio Supreme Court has dismissed a redistricting-related case after a Democratic politician reached an agreement with a local board of elections and the secretary of state’s office.

Rep. Adam Miller (D-Columbus) filed the lawsuit in the state supreme court earlier this month. Miller argued that Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s directive to local boards of elections — providing guidance for the August 2 primary — did not give prospective candidates the constitutionally-required amount of time to move into a new district.

However, the Franklin County Board of Elections voted to certify Miller as a Democratic candidate for the new House District 6 in the August 2 primary. Because of that decision, Miller filed a joint stipulation with LaRose’s office to have the case dismissed saying the matter was now “moot.”

There have been several lawsuits filed in the Ohio Supreme Court and federal court as a result of the May 28 implementation of new state legislative district maps for the 2022 election only.

In a span of eight months, the Ohio Redistricting Commission submitted five versions of new House and Senate district maps. The Ohio Supreme Court rejected those maps all five times for being unconstitutionally gerrymandered in favor of Republicans.

A lawsuit filed by a group of Republicans asked the federal court to step in to settle the impasse. A panel of federal judges decided, 2-1, to implement a set of maps drafted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission in February but invalidated by the Ohio Supreme Court in March.

Those unconstitutional maps, known as Map 3, will be used for the August 2 primary and November 8 general election.

Although the maps did not go into effect until May 28, LaRose issued a directive for local boards of elections to follow certain deadlines that were in place for the May 3 primary of state legislative races. Those races never happened because maps were not in place in time.

Miller argued that, because the official 2022 district maps were not implemented until May 28, he had up to 30 days to move to his new district.

Other hopeful candidates have filed a lawsuit with the supreme court saying they should be allowed to be on the ballot even though they did not file their candidacy paperwork until after the February 2 filing deadline. Instead they submitted paperwork for what would be the filing deadline for an August 2 primary — May 4.

In a court filing, attorneys for LaRose said the plaintiffs “do not have a clear legal right to the requested relief. At the time that each of them filed, there was no August 2 primary election scheduled. Nor is Respondent Secretary of State under a clear legal duty to direct boards of elections to accept untimely declarations and petitions.”

A similar lawsuit has been filed in federal court by aspiring Republican candidate Jennifer Giroux who wants to run for an Ohio House district in the Cincinnati area.

A group of Youngstown voters have filed an appeal to the federal court’s implementation of the state legislative district maps. They’re asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case under accusations of Voting Rights Act violations.

Those cases are still pending.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.