“Sweetheart Deal” scores lower than all 53 redistricting competition plans
A “Big Lump of Coal” for Ohio citizens
Columbus, OH – Ohio citizen groups today released an analysis of the new Congressional districts approved by the state legislature and signed by the Governor last week (HB 369). The plan’s final score was just 53 — worse than all 53 citizen-drawn plans submitted in the competition sponsored by the Ohio Campaign for Accountable Redistricting, a coalition led by the League of Women Voters and Ohio Citizen Action
“This plan is a partisan gerrymander by any definition,” said Catherine Turcer of Ohio Citizen Action. “Just like the previous plan, it packs Democrats into four districts, leaving 12 that favor Republicans. The new districts aren’t compact and don’t respect community boundaries. The fact that this is a sweetheart deal, which some Democratic politicians signed off on, doesn’t make it any better.”
The citizen groups’ analysis finds that, like the previously approved plan (HB 319), there are zero heavily competitive districts under the new plan. By contrast, there are 11 heavily competitive districts under the plan drawn by the Ohio Redistricting Competition winner, State Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago, IL).
“Democracy requires that voters have a voice in selecting who represents them, and this plan takes away our voice,” said Ann Henkener, Redistricting Specialist for the League of Women Voters of Ohio.
The districts drawn in the new plan are not compact. In fact, its compactness score is 33.38, even worse than the previous plan, which scored 34.5.
Some other key findings of today’s analysis:
•The plan splits many counties, with a total of 54 county splits. By contrast, the winning plan drawn by Rep. Fortner has just 9 county splits.
•There are only three generally competitive districts under the new Congressional map. This is just one more than the previously approved plan. These three districts are barely competitive; all are 54% Republican.
•When all factors are considered, the new map is worse than all 53 plans submitted to the Ohio Redistricting Competition. The top ten citizen plans submitted during the Ohio Redistricting Competition had scores ranging from 193 to 222, compared to just 53 for the new plan.
“The Republicans and Democrats who voted for this plan should all be ashamed of themselves,” said Dan Tokaji, a law professor at The Ohio State University. “When Rep. Huffman announced the new congressional districts, he called it ‘a Christmas gift’ for Ohioans. We can only assume he was joking. The state legislature has left nothing but a big lump of coal in the stockings of all Ohio citizens.”
The citizen groups, along with Professor Tokaji and Professor Dick Gunther of OSU, also criticized the process by which the new map was drawn. It was announced on Wednesday and approved by a majority of the legislature that day. This left no opportunity for analysis or public comment on the plan.
“The abysmal process we’ve seen this year highlights the need for an independent citizens’ commission to redraw Ohio’s district lines,” said Professor Gunther. “Incumbent politicians can’t be trusted with the mapmakers’ pen. That power should be returned to the people of Ohio.”