The effort to replace Ohio’s political-mapmaking system with a citizen-led panel can gather signatures

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Backers of a proposal to reform Ohio’s troubled political-mapmaking system got the go-ahead Thursday to begin signature-gathering.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission in a meeting.
Ohio Redistricting Commission meets to select mediators for new mapmaking team on March 22, 2022. [Andy Chow | Statehouse News Bureau]
The Ohio Ballot Board cleared the way when it agreed unanimously that the constitutional amendment proposed by Citizens Not Politicians constitutes a single subject. The campaign committee now has until July 3 of next year to collect the 413,487 valid signatures required to make the November 2024 ballot.

The proposal calls for replacing the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which currently comprises three statewide officeholders and four state lawmakers, with an independent body selected directly by citizens. The new panel’s members would be diversified by party affiliation and geography.

The effort follows the existing structure’s repeated failure to produce constitutional maps of congressional and state legislative districts. During the protracted process for re-drawing district boundaries to account for results of the 2020 Census, challenges filed in court resulted in two congressional maps and five sets of Statehouse maps being rejected as unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

Amid the court disputes, Ohio’s 2022 elections were allowed to proceed under the flawed maps.

Since then, opponents have dropped their litigation against the congressional mapmaking, putting it in place for 2024.

A new set of Ohio House and Ohio Senate districts was unanimously approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission last month, despite Democrats on the commission disagreeing with the maps.

That plan remains in limbo, after being challenged Oct. 5 as part of the ongoing lawsuit over Statehouse districts.