What voters need to know
CLEVELAND (WJW) — Just 24 days after Ohio’s May primary, Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Friday that a second primary will be held on August 2 for seats in the Ohio House of Representatives and Ohio Senate, as well as positions in the Republicans and Democrats State Central Committees.
The announcement comes after a long battle to redistribute legislative cards that came to a head on Friday when a federal court ruled that the state must use a card previously ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.
“People talk about playing political darts in the dark and no one knows if they’re running or what’s happening or where they’re voting,” said former Brook Park Mayor Tom Coyne.
Coyne is now a Republican, but as a longtime Democrat he served as chairman of the Cuyahoga County Election Committee. He believes election officials across the state will have no trouble adjusting to August’s second primary, but he wonders how that will affect voters.
“You meet with politicians and elected officials, and now even the judiciary jumps in and says, ‘Wait a minute, you can’t do this, that’s unfair,'” Coyne said. “I’m not sure it affects them all very much, unless it’s uncomfortable, when it’s uncomfortable, failure comes into play.”
Election analysts say Friday’s federal court decision gives Republicans a crucial advantage in the State House and Senate. Democrats are accusing the GOP of “running out of time” on redistributing the legislative card so they have a card that would protect the Republican majority in the General Assembly.
Coyne says that given the current political atmosphere in the country, no one should be surprised by the partisans’ heated bickering over the redistribution of the map.
“You draw a district and you see if you do 100% of the parties that worry about the composition of the district, you see if they’re happy, I don’t think so, I’m sure not, okay, because it’s almost impossible to get it right,” he said.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission was formed after Ohioans voted in 2015 to abolish gerrymandering by the party in control of the General Assembly. But Steven Steinglass, dean emeritus of Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, says he is concerned that the map selected by the federal court was previously ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court over concerns about partisan manipulation.
“The rule of law is something that should be obeyed, that should be followed, and I don’t think that was the case in this case,” Steinglass said.
The constitutional law expert says opponents of the legislative card, which will be used for the August 2 primary and November 8 general election, appear to be running out of ways to stop it.
“The next step in pursuing federal matters would be the US Supreme Court, and I’m inclined to think that after the clock is up, there’s not much of a chance that the US Supreme Court will be prompted or intervene,” Steinglass said.
Since the federal court-approved map only applies to the 2022 election cycle, the 2023 legislative map debate will begin again.
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