Ohio’s state legislative maps only last four years without a compromise

Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, foreground, speaks to state Sen. Vernon Sykes, seated, the co-chair of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, as other members of the panel prepared for a meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth)

Knowing politicians tasked with drawing their own legislative districts would need an incentive to listen to their better angels, the authors of Ohio's 2014 redistricting reform included a penalty.

Without a bipartisan compromise, maps drawn by the seven-member Ohio Redistricting Commission would last only four years. The premise was lawmakers would hate the uncertainty of districts shifting every four to six years, and mapmakers would avoid the risk of a commission controlled by the other party.

"The impasse provision has risks for both sides. It is designed in such a way to encourage agreement," then-Senate President Keith Faber said of the redistricting reforms in December 2014. "I think that gives everybody sufficient risks to make everybody have sufficient negotiations to get the job done."

State Auditor Keith Faber listens to an Ohioan voice his concern over Ohio House and Senate district draft maps during a meeting at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio on September 9, 2021. Faber is one of seven on the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

But Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission approved a four-year map that would give the GOP a veto-proof majority in the Ohio Statehouse despite the objections of the commission's two Democrats.

"Clearly it wasn’t as big of a deterrent as it needed to be to urge the mapmakers to get back to work and figure it out," said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, one group that pushed for redistricting reform.

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