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OLBC President Rep. West statement as Redistricting Commission misses first map deadline

September 1, 2021
Thomas West News

COLUMBUS– Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) President Rep. Thomas West (D-Canton) issued the following statement after the Aug. 31 meeting of the Ohio Redistricting Commission:

“We continue to hear that the census delay is to blame for the fact that the Commission has not yet been able to release a state legislative district map proposal. The fact that members of the public, a grassroots coalition, and the Senate Democratic Caucus were able to produce proposed maps before the Sept. 1 deadline illustrates that submitting a map was possible - the census delay is not an excuse. This inaction is a violation of the Ohio Constitution, and it is also a violation of Ohioans’ trust.

“While we’re glad to see that the Commission has finally adopted rules - and has agreed to host at least three public input hearings - we will continue to advocate for the release of a map and of information about future hearings so that all Ohioans can adequately prepare. 

“Moreover, we would ask that future public hearings be more accessible. Virtual testimony should be an option, hearings should be scheduled outside of business hours, and meetings of the full Commission should be held in places other than the Ohio Statehouse.

“OLBC looks forward to the Commission releasing a map that reflects Ohio’s partisan makeup and its diversity. This map must ensure representational fairness for our state, particularly for Black and brown Ohioans.

“The bottom line is that the Commission must move with the utmost urgency going forward, especially with the final state legislative deadline on Sept. 15 fast approaching. Our boards of elections need to receive the new map information without delay in order to conduct our elections in a timely, fair, and professional manner.

“We have seen the legislature move quickly on countless extreme and controversial pieces of legislation in the past. The redistricting process, one of the most important tasks the legislature undertakes, deserves that same sense of urgency.”

The Ohio Redistricting Commission is required by the Ohio Constitution to release, hold three hearings on, and adopt a state legislative district map with minority party support by Sept. 1. If it misses this deadline to adopt a map, it must at least introduce a map. A final map must be adopted by September 15.