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State, Congressional District Designing Set to Begin in Ohio

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 Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Assistant Managing Editor

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Tuesday, August 3, 2021   

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- New congressional and legislative maps will soon start to take shape in Ohio.

The Ohio Redistricting Commission convenes for the first time this Friday, ahead of August 16, when the U.S. Census Bureau is set to release key demographic data used for redistricting.

Jeniece Brock, policy and advocacy director for the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, which is a member of the Equal Districts Coalition, said they urged the commission to hold public hearings around the state to ensure transparency.

"We aim to lift up the voices of Black, brown and immigrant Ohioans who have long been left out of the conversation; unheard, under-represented during the official redistricting process," Brock explained. "We want to make sure people's voices are heard."

The commission will draw Ohio's House and Senate maps. State lawmakers are tasked with drawing the congressional map.

Advocates have called on Gov. Mike DeWine to convene the commission for several months, and launched the Ohio Citizen's Redistricting Commission to gather public input on the map-drawing process. Ohio will lose a congressional district, dropping from 16 to 15, as the result of new census data.

The Equal Districts Coalition is wrapping up a ten-city Fair Maps Town Hall tour this week, where the topic is how gerrymandering has impacted communities. Brock pointed out to ensure people could participate during the pandemic, the events have been held online.

"Also, some people really don't have the means to travel down to Columbus to share their story," Brock acknowledged. "So, we thought we would bring this to the people, make sure that we make this process accessible and transparent."

Brock contended all Ohioans deserve a chance to weigh in on how their voting districts should be drawn.

"When we let Ohioans draw the maps, we can choose what hospitals, schools and the resources [are] funded in our neighborhood," Brock emphasized. "These maps will shape our lives, laws and policies for at least the next decade."

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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