Ohio’s Republican-dominated Senate on Tuesday approved a congressional district map that critics say is designed to benefit the GOP—a move that sparked swift criticism of the state’s lawmakers and bolstered demands for Congress to pass federal legislation to protect voting rights and outlaw gerrymandering.
Unveiled late Monday by Republican state lawmakers, the Ohio Senate Local Government and Elections Committee advanced the new map before being approved by the full upper chamber. It still needs approval from the Ohio House and GOP Gov. Mike DeWine.
“Announcing a new map late in the evening, just hours before a vote, with no opportunity or possibility even for in-depth analysis or discussion, is disrespectful,” said Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, after the first vote.
“In 2018, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved transparent and bipartisan mapmaking with meaningful opportunities for public input,” Turcer added. “Ohio voters deserve better.”
“It’s incredibly disheartening,” the Common Cause Ohio leader told The Columbus Dispatch.
Deidra Reese, the statewide coordinator of the Ohio Unity Coalition, similarly noted that the schedule meant lawmakers had little time to hear from opponents of the map.
“I am disappointed that they didn’t hear the pleas from hundreds of Ohioans for districts that are fair and representative of the people,” Reese said, agreeing that “we deserve better” and calling on Ohio lawmakers to “reject this plan.”
Ohio Senate Republicans highlight that the new map would only divide 12 counties and keep seven of the state’s eight biggest cities in single districts. They also claim seven of Ohio’s 15 districts would be competitive between Democratic and GOP candidates.
However, analyses suggest the new boundaries would only benefit Democrats in a few districts. As Cleveland.com detailed Tuesday:
The map as designed favors Republicans to win a 12-3 share of Ohio’s congressional seats, according to modeling from Dave’s Redistricting App, a widely-used redistricting site. DRA rates the map as “OK” on compactness, competitiveness, and community splitting. It rates “very bad” for political proportionality, worse than the current map, which awards Republicans a 12-4 share.
The new map’s 12-3 breakdown includes two toss-up districts. One, which includes Democratic Toledo Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s district, leans slightly Republican, while another, incorporating outgoing GOP Rocky River Rep. Anthony Gonzalez’s district, leans slightly Democratic. A district in the Cincinnati area represented by GOP Rep. Steve Chabot leans three points Republican, but Sen. Rob McColley, a Republican who is sponsoring the map plan, said President Joe Biden narrowly won the district in 2020.
Although former President Donald Trump remains committed to his “Big Lie” about the 2020 election, Biden won the national contest. However, despite Biden doing well in Ohio’s major cities, Trump secured the Midwestern state by more than eight points.
Mother Jones‘ Ari Berman, the author of “Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America,” said Tuesday that the “extreme gerrymandered congressional map” gives Republicans 80% of seats in a state where Trump won with 53% of the vote.
Responding to Berman’s tweet, Nina Turner—a former Cleveland City Council member, Ohio state senator, and U.S. House candidate—said, “This is a damn shame.”
The Ohio House Government Oversight Committee is set to consider the map Wednesday morning. The full chamber has sessions scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. Neither chamber is expected to meet next week, and the rapidly approaching deadline to finish the map is the end of the month.
The Dispatch explained that what happens in the state House could impact how long the map is in effect if approved by all necessary parties. For the map to last a decade, it needs approval from 60% of lawmakers in each chamber and 33% of Democrats, which “amounts to 12 Democrats in the House and three in the Senate.”
“Nobody wants a four-year map,” said Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-25), telling the newspaper he is aiming for a compromise. “If it’s doable, if it’s palatable, then I’ll whip my caucus.”
The battle over the map in Ohio—mirroring other GOP-controlled states—comes as congressional Democrats have been fighting to pass various voting rights legislation.
Earlier this month, all U.S. Senate Republicans expect Lisa Murkowski of Alaska prevented a floor debate on the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which came after the evenly divided chamber’s GOP caucus twice blocked a package called the For the People Act as well as a later compromise bill, the Freedom to Vote Act.
That GOP obstruction, as well as state Republican lawmakers’ voter suppression bills and gerrymandering efforts this year, have added fuel to calls for Senate Democrats to reform or even fully abolish the filibuster so they can quickly send an election reform bill to Biden’s desk.
Jessica Corbett Is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
A Disturbing Timeline Of Ahmaud Arbery's Killing And Murder Investigation In Georgia
1. October 20191 of 43
2. November 2019
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This video is from 11/17. Larry English called 911 on 11/18 and said he had a problem with "other people" the night before. This appears to show that day and is from English's attorney. There is no record of neighbors calling 911 this day, based off records from Glynn Co 911 pic.twitter.com/BXlyYEaBcL— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 15, 2020
3. Dec. 20, 2019
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Police told the homeowner where #AhmaudArbery was last seen to contact Greg McMichael if his cameras caught someone on his property. McMichael in turn gathered a posse & began hunting for Ahmaud, or someone who fit his description, catching up with him on 2/23/20– killing him. pic.twitter.com/BmlmW636f5— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 16, 2020
4. Dec. 20, 2019
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This is the man that set the plan in motion that led to the murder of #AhmaudArbery.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 18, 2020
ROBERT RASH is a Glynn County Police Officer.
He instructed a homeowner to contact Gregory McMichael to deal w/ trespassers.
McMichael and his son formed a posse and murdered Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/ZqZg567Agp
5. Feb. 11, 2020
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Larry English’s attorney gave me this video from Feb 11. It shows the incident outlined in my story when Travis McMichael called 911 and saw someone in the home. On 2/23, he and his father thought the Abrery was who they saw on the 11th pic.twitter.com/C2gVJCJ3xQ— Wright Gazaway (@WrightKATU) May 14, 2020
6. Feb. 23Source:Getty 6 of 43
7. Feb. 27, 2020
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This is the DA who blocked the arrest of 2 white supremacist TERRORISTS after they murdered an innocent black man execution style while he was jogging in his neighborhood— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) May 9, 2020
JACKIE JOHNSON NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR OBSTRUCTING & ENDANGERING THE LIVES OF BLACK MEN
ARREST HER pic.twitter.com/ngSIEGMCq1
8. Feb. 27, 20208 of 43
9. Feb. 29, 2020Source:Getty 9 of 43
10. March 2020
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If you’re wondering why no charges were initially filed on the murderers of #AhmaudArbery, it’s because D.A. George Barnhill immediately concluded Arbery was a criminal & that he attacked the men who were hunting him.— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) May 7, 2020
This is letter Barnhill sent to the Brunswick authorities pic.twitter.com/vsGCboful7
11. April 2, 2020
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Police report sheds more light on Satilla Shores shooting https://t.co/Zi6YVGTkhK— The Brunswick News (@Brunswick_News) April 2, 2020
12. April 3, 202012 of 43
13. April 1313 of 43
14. April 26, 2020
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We’ll never know how often Black life is taken, justice denied:— Dr. Malinda S. Smith (@MalindaSmith) May 9, 2020
“Two Weapons, a Chase, a Killing and No Charges.
A 25-year-old man running through a Georgia neighborhood ended up dead. A prosecutor argued that the pursuers should not be arrested” @nytimes https://t.co/pJA6kSK6cj
15. April 28, 202015 of 43
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18. May 7, 202018 of 43
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20. May 8, 2020
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On what would have been his 26th birthday, people were jogging 2.23 miles in his honor to signify the date he was killed by Gregory and Travis McMichael, who racially profiled and shot the jogger in Brunswick, Georgia. #IrunwithMaud #IRunwithAhmaudhttps://t.co/V2KuBaeKjx— NewsOne (@newsone) May 9, 2020
21. May 9, 2020Source:Getty 21 of 43
22. May 10, 202022 of 43
23. May 11, 2020
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Another huge WIN for #JusticeForAhmaud! At the family’s demand— a special prosecutor will replace Tom Durden the S. GA prosecutor that sat on the case until video of Ahmaud’s murder was leaked. Joyette Holmes is out of @cobbcountygovt. Her office is being reviewed for conflicts. pic.twitter.com/rcuQ7UPOfE— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) May 11, 2020
24. May 12, 2020Source:Twitter 24 of 43
25. May 13, 2020
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“Ahmaud, I am so sorry. I should have stopped them,” reads the note. “I am so sorry.” The card was not signed by a name and no more information or context was provided, including when the card was left there. https://t.co/nzzY5aNple— NewsOne (@newsone) May 14, 2020
26. May 14, 2020Source:Getty 26 of 43
27. May 18, 2020
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Because this story wasn't bad enough now we discover Lindsay McMichael, the daughter and sister of Ahmaud Arbery’s alleged killers, posted a picture of Ahmaud’s deceased body to snapchat pic.twitter.com/RwTwzrAXAG— Reese Waters (@reesewaters) May 19, 2020
28. May 18, 202028 of 43
29. May 20, 2020Source:Getty 29 of 43
30. May 20, 2020
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Today, the GA Congressional Delegation co-signed a letter to U.S. AG William Barr and Asst AG Eric Dreiband, encouraging the use of “all possible Federal resources to achieve full justice, transparency, and accountability in the case of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery.” https://t.co/8FcMZEEKWF— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) May 20, 2020
31. May 21, 2020Source:WJAX 31 of 43
32. May 25, 2020
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NEW: Attorneys for Ahmaud Arbery's parents announce that the Department of Justice will be investigating Arbery's killing and why it took so long to arrest the people responsible. See their statement here: pic.twitter.com/yfcnrT5SjV— Hayley Mason (@HayleyMasonTV) May 26, 2020
33. June 2020
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Reports of a photo op with the president or standing with the White House during the EO signing are false.— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) June 16, 2020
Show me the civil rights leaders who are upset about families making a direct appeal for federal intervention after the murder of their loved one & I’ll show you a clown. pic.twitter.com/GXR5arB8Mz
34. June 17, 2020Source:WJAX 34 of 43
35. November 2020Source:Getty 35 of 43
36. December 2020
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William ‘Roddie’ Bryan tried to publicly absolve himself of having any part in Ahmaud Arbery’s modern-day lynching, but this newly released bodycam footage confirms what we long suspected: He clearly used his truck to block Ahmaud's escape from the McMichaels! pic.twitter.com/UAms4LYS28— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) December 15, 2020
37. January 2021Source:Getty 37 of 43
38. February 2021Source:Getty 38 of 43
39. Feb. 23, 2021Source:Getty 39 of 43
40. April 2021Source:Getty 40 of 43
41. May 2021Source:Getty 41 of 43
42. September 2021
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This is the mugshot of disgraced District Attorney Jackie Johnson who was just arrested today for her role in the coverup of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. pic.twitter.com/OKF2xKkV3Z— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) September 8, 2021