COLUMBUS - Ohio's Senate Democrats have introduced an alternative congressional map to the Republican plan passed out of the state House last week.
The Democratic legislation contains a map drawn by GOP Illinois state Rep. Mike Fortner, who won a mapping contest sponsored by a coalition of voter advocacy groups.
State Sen. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, who introduced the legislation Monday, said the new map creates fairer, more competitive congressional districts.
State Sen. Tom Sawyer, D-Akron, introduced legislation for an alternative Congressional district map, left. The Republicans’ plan is shown on the right.
He said it would create a more balanced approach to congressional redistricting that better maintains communities of interest and increases the number of competitive districts in Ohio.
The map was one of the top entries in a non-partisan competition sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Ohio and other citizen groups.
The move comes after the Republican-controlled Ohio House last week passed another plan for redrawing the state's congressional districts despite opposition from House Democrats.
"The map drawn by Republicans (HB 319) represents a new extreme in gerrymandering for the state of Ohio," said Sawyer. "My legislation illustrates how it is possible to draw a fairer map that uses the same data and follows the law."
The map contained in Senator Sawyer's legislation was drawn by Republican State Representative Mike Fortner of Illinois.
A spokesman for the Ohio Senate Democrats says the map keeps 79 of Ohio's 88 counties in single U.S. House districts and creates 11 competitive districts out of 16, compared with two in the GOP map.
A spokesman for state Senate Republicans says the map looks like it may not comply with federal laws requiring districts of substantially equal population and districts that give minority communities the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice.
New congressional district lines are drawn every 10 years after each census to reflect changes in population. Because of slow population growth in the last decade, the state's congressional delegation is shrinking to 16 from 18. The proposed U.S. House districts will affect Ohio congressional politics for the next decade.