Zach Gibson/Getty Images(CINCINNATI) — A federal court ruled Friday that Ohio’s congressional map was intentionally drawn “to disadvantage Democratic voters and entrench Republican representatives in power” and must be redrawn prior to the 2020 election.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Cincinnati unanimously ruled that the congressional map was “intentional and effective” in creating unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering that created “extreme” Republican partisan bias.
“They designed the 2012 map using software that allowed them to predict the partisan outcomes that would result from the lines they drew based on various partisan indices that they created from historical Ohio election data,” the judges stated in their ruling.
Several voting rights groups, including the ACLU and the League of Women Voters, sued Ohio in 2018. The district court ruled in agreement with those groups that the 2011 congressional map that was redrawn by Republicans is “one of the most egregious gerrymanders in recent history.”
Currently, Republicans control 12 out of 16 of the state’s congressional districts, despite the state solidly re-electing a Democratic senator, Sherrod Brown, while narrowly electing a Republican governor, Mike DeWine, in 2018.
2020 presidential candidate and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan called this ruling a “huge victory” for the state and called for the end of the “undemocratic practice” of partisan gerrymandering.
“These unfair maps perpetuate a cycle where districts are drawn to benefit the people in power,” Ryan said. “Ohio voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around.”
The judges also ruled that Ohio’s map has given an advantage Republicans in every election and has helped maintain a 12-to-4 advantage for Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation.
Ohio lawmakers have been tasked with drawing up a new district map by June 14, 2019. However, if the state is unable to make that deadline or creates a plan that is not “constitutionally permissible” then the courts will take control of the process.
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