By Barbara Starr , CNN Posted August 25, 2021 3:37 PM Save for later
Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Friday signed a new congressional district map into law, effectively ousting the current map that is currently being challenged in court by Democrats.
“Ohio will no longer see gerrymandered electoral maps that exclude suburban voters and negatively impact minority communities. I have instructed the new map-makers that redrawing boundaries should never again be a negotiation where one side gets to control what appears on the front page of a newspaper,” Kasich said in a statement.
Kasich signed House Bill 110 last week as he traveled to Nevada.
The new law divides Ohio into 18 congressional districts, instead of the 11 that exist now.
Republicans are still the majority in Ohio’s congressional delegation and hold 10 of the 12 seats in the state’s House delegation.
The new Congressional maps will become effective 30 days after the bill is signed.
Satisfying his Democratic critics was key to keeping Kasich in office during his final years.
Ohio was one of five states — Iowa, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin are the others — that had to satisfy a court ruling issued in May that forced state lawmakers to redraw congressional districts to address partisan gerrymandering.
Kasich opposed the lawsuit, which was filed by voting rights advocates on behalf of minority groups. He called on Ohio lawmakers to draw new maps for congressional and legislative districts without regard to party affiliation.
Two Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation issued statements praising Kasich for signing the legislation.
“The partisan gerrymandering and extreme lines that contribute to partisan control of Congress have no place in a balanced democracy,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, the head of the Ohio Republican Party.
Rep. James Renacci, who narrowly lost his bid for the GOP nomination for US Senate this year, said Kasich’s signature “will help ensure that we stop backsliding to partisan gridlock and excessive government intrusion.”
Ohio Democratic Party chairman David Pepper expressed concern about the new maps saying, “Given the overwhelmingly powerful influence of Republicans in Ohio, in a state of such diverse communities, Ohio will likely see its congressional delegation continue to be too heavily skewed in their favor.”
According to the polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Republicans have 5.2 million more registered voters in the state than Democrats, a gap of 600,000 voters.
About 50,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted in the 2016 presidential election, the polling group’s research found.
Ohio is also one of 11 states to use the “efficiency gap” framework, a study that finds when a map gives gerrymandering legislators advantage over the map-makers. In 2016 the efficiency gap was plus or minus 4.0 percent, according to the Pew Research Center, which is a lot better than the plus or minus 10 percent range used by the ACLU.
Ultimately, though, voters will have their chance to decide whether to overturn the new map in a 2020 referendum.
CNN’s Eliana Johnson and AnneClaire Stapleton contributed to this report.