The current district map for the Ohio House of Representatives. Map courtesy the Ohio Secretary of State.

(See a complete list of Maps below this article)

By Tyler Buchanan and Ohio Capital Journal

Ohio’s redistricting process is in a state of turmoil, with a delay in Census data leading the state to worry about there not being enough time to adequately draw new legislative maps.

Republicans and Democrats have both presented plans for how Ohio can deal with these delays. In essence, legislative leaders from both parties want to push back the deadline for completing the new maps that will be in place starting in the 2022 elections.

But the sides propose two very different ways to achieve that goal.

The next few days will be critical as Ohio lawmakers determine the preferred way of moving forward. The results from this week could have lasting implications for Ohio’s legislative government over the coming decade.

The current district map for the Ohio House of Representatives.

Not how Ohio voters drew it up

Each decade, Ohio redraws its federal legislative seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislative seats in both the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives. 

This is done to reflect changes in population and coincides with the U.S. Census, which is also conducted every 10 years.

After the last redistricting effort a decade ago, Ohio voters chose to reform the process for this year and the decades to follow. In short, voters approved a new system which puts a greater emphasis on transparency and bipartisanship. 

These new plans — for federal and state maps —  were approved via constitutional amendments on the 2018 and 2015 ballots, respectively. 

These plans set specific deadlines to meet during the redistricting process.

Ohio voters could not have anticipated a global pandemic would occur at the same time the U.S. Census Bureau conducted its decennial count of American residents. The pandemic not only made the count more difficult, but has led to delays in processing and distributing census data used by officials to draw new legislative districts.

The Census Bureau announced this redistricting data will be provided to states by Sept. 30.

That’s a major problem — Ohio would therefore miss its redistricting deadlines:

This flow chart shows the new process for redrawing Statehouse districts. Circled is the deadline in question due to the delay in U.S. Census data.
This flow chart shows the new process for redrawing congressional districts in Ohio. Circled is the deadline in question due to the U.S. Census data delay.

Plan A involved a federal lawsuit from Attorney General Dave Yost seeking to get the redistricting data released earlier. The case was quickly dismissed. Now the two parties are offering some ideas for Plan B.

Back to the drawing board

If the government won’t release data early enough to match Ohio’s deadlines, officials here propose shifting the deadlines back to account for the late data.

This is not an easy fix. The 2021 deadlines were approved by voters and are thus embedded in the Ohio Constitution.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, suggests the state get approval from voters to move back the deadlines as part of a one-time fix for this unique circumstance.

State Sen. Matt Huffman, R-Lima. Screenshot courtesy the Ohio Channel.

The next opportunity to get a constitutional amendment before Ohio voters would be the Aug. 3 special election.

Both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly (House and Senate) would have to pass a joint resolution to place the constitutional amendment on the August ballot. A three-fifths majority is required in each chamber for passage.

The deadline for filing this joint resolution with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office is 90 days before the August election — that’s this Wednesday, May 5. 

It’s possible, but the Republican leadership would need to work quickly. As of Monday morning a joint resolution has not yet been formally introduced. 

An amendment requires a majority statewide vote to pass.

House Democratic Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes. Source: Ohio General Assembly.

Democratic leaders in the General Assembly say there are better options for handling the census delays than a hurried constitutional amendment attempt.

House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes, D-Akron, and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights, outlined their party’s own take on Friday for how to move forward.

“Constitutional amendments should be our final options,” Sykes argued, “not our first.”

The Democrats believe the best option is to ask the Ohio Supreme Court for an extension of the deadlines as other states, including Michigan, have done. 

Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko is pictured at the Ohio Statehouse in 2018. Source: The Ohio General Assembly.

“I think (the Supreme Court) could understand that the people have spoken loud and clear, twice already, asking us to put an end to gerrymandering,” Yuko said. “What we’re proposing will do just that.”

While both plans call for extending the redistricting deadlines, neither party is suggesting to push back the 2022 primary election day to keep the full timeline intact.

All On The Line Ohio, a left-leaning organization which advocates for a fair mapmaking process, is calling for the primary election to get pushed back by a few weeks.

Sykes and Yuko said the Democrats would be introducing a plan to ensure the public has an adequate chance to provide input during what could be a truncated redistricting timeline.

Tyler Buchanan
Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.

DISTRICT MAPS

Every 10 years, following the decennial census, Ohio General Assembly and Congressional districts are redrawn to reflect changes in the state’s population in two parallel, but separate processes. The goal of each is to preserve the important one person-one vote principle – that all citizens are equally represented at the Statehouse and in the United States Capitol.

These maps were drawn based on data from the 2010 U.S. Census and are in effect from 2012-2022.

The PDF files below contain visual representations of Ohio legislative, judicial and education districts. For more information about what districts you reside in, click here to visit Check My Voter Registration(opens in a new window).

STATE GENERAL ASSEMBLY DISTRICTS

FEDERAL CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS

*Equivalency Files are compressed DBF files that can be opened in Excel. 

EDUCATIONAL & JUDICIAL DISTRICTS

 DISTRICT MAPS BY COUNTY

The Secretary of State’s office provides by-county breakdown maps of Ohio Legislative Districts. Click here to request a ZIP file of these maps(opens in a new window). For up-to-date county district information, contact your county Board of Elections.

HISTORICAL DISTRICT MAPS

The Secretary of State’s office provides, for reference purposes, historical district maps dating back to 1972. Click here to request a ZIP file of these maps(opens in a new window). The file will be e-mailed to you. For up-to-date county district information, contact your county Board of Elections.

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