Ohio Redistricting Task Force Co-Chair Sykes Looks To Next Steps For Fair Districts
Calls preliminary meeting on fair Districts in Ohio following court ruling, consensus on rigged, partisan Districts
Posted May 08, 2019 by Minority Caucus
 
 

House Democratic Leader and Legislative Taskforce on Redistricting Co-Chair Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today detailed next steps that the Task Force, co-chaired by Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina), must take to “consider the recent Court decision and, more importantly, to take necessary steps to ensure Ohio is taking the lead on our own fair districts, regardless of the Court’s decision on matters pending before it and outcomes in other states or courts,” she wrote in a letter* to Obhof.


“Time and again, Ohio voters have rejected Ohio’s districts as rigged—and the courts agree,” said Leader Sykes. “It is our duty, as legislative leaders and Redistricting Task Force co-chairs, to do the work that is in front of us, and that means drawing new maps that are fair, constitutional and give every Ohio voter the opportunity to have their voice heard and vote counted.”


The Ohio Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Reapportionment, and Demographic Research is charged with providing assistance to the Ohio legislature to help it fulfill its duty to “establish districts for the election of representatives to congress.” The body receives some $5 million in state funding and is authorized to hire and contract for data and mapmaking services needed to draw fair districts, in addition to holding public meetings and hearings.


“It doesn’t matter what comes out of the court ruling because we know what the right thing to do is, and we know what our job as elected officials is – to be responsive to the will of the people and to ensure their voice matters and their vote counts,” said Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) said in a news briefing with the press.


In the letter to Obhof, Sykes proposed the body convene a meeting Monday, May 13 to consider to court’s decision:


“As co-chair of the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Reapportionment, and Demographic Research, I propose that the Task Force convene in Statehouse Room 313 on Monday, May 13, at 9:00 a.m. to consider the recent Court decision and, more importantly, to take necessary steps to ensure Ohio is taking the lead on our own fair districts, regardless of the Court’s decision on matters pending before it and outcomes in other states or courts.”


*Read the letter below:


May 8, 2019


Senator Larry Obhof
Statehouse
1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor
Columbus, OH 43215


Dear President Obhof:


As co-chair of the Legislative Task Force on Redistricting, Reapportionment, and Demographic Research, I propose that the Task Force convene in Statehouse Room 313 on Monday, May 13, at 9:00 a.m. to consider the recent Court decision and, more importantly, to take necessary steps to ensure Ohio is taking the lead on our own fair districts, regardless of the Court’s decision on matters pending before it and outcomes in other states or courts.



As outlined in statute, it is the Task Force’s duty, and ours as co-chairs, to ensure the legislature has the resources it needs to carry out all redistricting-related duties, including preparing for the next decennial redistricting process as well as responding appropriately to court decisions, like the one issued May 3, ordering creation of new, fair congressional districts.


It is disappointing that Defendants in this case—legislative leaders and Secretary of State LaRose—chose to go against the will of the voters by appealing the Court’s order. Regardless, it would be a dereliction of duty for the legislature to do nothing while waiting for federal judicial intervention or letting other states’ issues decide our future in Ohio.


The Task Force’s important bipartisan work is underscored by the passage of not one, but two reform measures, where Ohio voters overwhelmingly called for more bipartisanship, more transparency, and fair maps to replace Ohio’s current rigged districts.


The Task Force has unfinished business before it now, including bringing Ohio’s congressional districts into compliance as well as ensuring state liaisons have the tools and resources they need to ensure we collect the most accurate demographic data from the next census. As it stands, legislative software licenses are expired, equipment is outdated and liaisons are currently working without pay.


The Legislative Task Force needs to hold a public meeting to do the work it is required to do. Please confirm your availability so we can provide the public with adequate notice of the meeting.


Thank you for your time.


Respectfully,


Emilia Strong Sykes
Minority Leader
Ohio House District 34

 
 
 
  
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