OHIO — On Tuesday, Ohio’s voters passed Issue One, reforming the way Ohio’s congressional districts are drawn. The bipartisan measure was strongly supported by both parties, support that paid out at the polls with nearly 75 percent of voters state-wide approving the issue. 

The new process will be in place for the next redistricting, which will occur after the 2020 census is completed.

Here is a summary of the new process for drawing congressional districts:

The Ohio legislature, and primarily its majority party, will still draw the map of congressional districts, at least initially. However, 60 percent of each chamber, both the Ohio House and Senate, must support the new map. Additionally, 50 percent of the minority party in each chamber must vote in favor of the map as well. This map is effective for 10 years.

Should lawmakers be unable to reach such thresholds, a seven member panel will be created to draw the congressional map. This panel will consist of the Governor, Auditor, Secretary of State, and four members of the legislature - two from the majority party and two from the minority. Approval would be required from four of the seven members, including both minority party members, for the map of congressional districts to go into effect for the following 10 years.

If the seven member panel also fails to reach an agreement, the process returns to the legislature. This time, the majority party can draw the congressional districts map and only needs approval from one third of the minority party for it to pass and be in effect for 10 years.

Should the legislature again be unable to meet this criteria, the majority party will be free to draw the map how it sees fit without input or support from the minority party. However, this map would only last four years, at which time the process would begin again, and the law includes anti-gerrymandering language which the majority party still must follow.

Additional measures have been included in the new law with the intent of discouraging the creation of unfair maps. These include the ability of the Governor to veto any map created by the legislature; a requirement that lawmakers hold public meetings on the new map and accept input from citizens; and a process that allows voters to challenge a map by putting it up for popular vote.

In addition to these political reforms, new congressional districts will also make more sense to voters in respect to basic geography. As noted in a previous statement published by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, “[Issue One] will also keep communities together by limiting splits of counties, townships and cities and promote geographically compact districts.”

The first election with congressional districts created by this new process will occur in 2022.