Delays in Census data are no excuse for limiting robust, transparent map-drawing process that leads to fair maps
Today, a new coalition of Ohio organizations announced their opposition to any attempts to shorten or minimize opportunities for the public to weigh-in on the redistricting process. The Equal Districts Coalition includes the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the Ohio State Conference of the NAACP, the Ohio Environmental Council, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio Student Association, ProgressOhio, All On the Line-Ohio, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Ohio Council of Churches, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, URGE – Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, LEAD Ohio, and the Ohio Women’s Alliance.
This coalition strongly opposes any attempt to use the delay in the Census data to limit the redistricting process. Such a change would be a direct contradiction of the will of the Ohio voters who overwhelmingly passed redistricting reform in 2015 and 2018.
“We have all had to make adjustments during this pandemic to ensure our families and communities have what they need,” said Innovation Ohio President Desiree Tims. “It is important that Ohio elected officials step up to the challenge and not cut corners when it comes to making sure that every person counts in our democracy.”
Yesterday, a federal judge dismissed Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s lawsuit that attempted to force the US Census Bureau to send incomplete redistricting data to the states. From the start, Ohio’s lawsuit has been a misguided attempt to cut corners at the expense of Ohio voters – the US Census Bureau needs as much time as necessary to ensure that the 2020 Census count is complete and that the redistricting data is as accurate as possible.
“Our priority is to protect the public’s ability to participate in how the maps are drawn and how their communities will be represented. For the last decade, Ohioans have been denied any real political representation because of our gerrymandered districts,” said Tom Roberts, President of the Ohio State Conference of the NAACP. “In 2015 and 2018, we came together to demand a redistricting process centered around injecting the people’s voice into how our districts are drawn. We will not negotiate away our ability to engage in a robust, transparent redistricting process that gives us fair, representative maps as a result.”
We now know – like we have known for the last month – that Ohio will receive its redistricting data by September 30, 2021. This certainly presents some challenges for the state given our constitutionally-mandated deadlines by when new maps are due. What the delay underscores, however, is that Ohio’s elected leaders need to begin the necessary work to prepare for redistricting immediately.
“There is no time to waste in preparing for the monumental task of redrawing our district boundaries for the next decade and ensuring every Ohioan can have an equal voice in the process,” said All On The Line Ohio State Director Katy Shanahan. “The delay in census data delivery is not an excuse to cut out any opportunity for members of the public to engage in the redistricting process or for there to be any less transparency in how the maps are drawn.”