Ohio halts preparations for May 3 primary amid map flap

His order prohibits counties from altering or mailing ballots until further notice and suspends reprogramming of voter registration and tabulation systems. He asks councils to continue recruiting poll workers, posting voter registration information and doing other things unrelated to the maps.

The Secretary of State does not have the authority to change the date of Ohio’s primary elections. LaRose said that decision must now come either from the legislature or from “immediate action by a federal court.”

U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley, who had stayed a related lawsuit filed by a group of GOP voters despite their pleas for speed, said Thursday he would “deal with the matter expeditiously.” The next set of party briefs are due Friday.

Meanwhile, a growing chorus of interest groups and politicians from both parties has begun calling on lawmakers to postpone the primary – to June or even August – in light of the latest decision.

LaRose lambasted National Democrats and the Ohio Supreme Court for the predicament. He accused the Biden administration of intentionally delaying the census results on which the maps are built, of pocketing “out of the vested interests of the state” a time-consuming litigation strategy and the High Court’s bipartisan majority of loitering. in its deliberations.

“However, we have never relented in our efforts to make a full primary election on May 3 a success, and I am confident that we are ready to do so,” he wrote.

The US Census Bureau was supposed to provide new population counts to states last spring, kicking off the reshuffling of political boundaries once a decade. The agency attributed a months-long delay to difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic in conducting the headcount, which mostly took place in 2020 – during Republican Donald Trump’s presidency.

In its ruling Wednesday night, the Supreme Court ruled that the third set of legislative maps remains gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, in violation of the state Constitution.

The court faulted two top lawmakers on the Republican-dominated Redistricting Commission — Senate Speaker Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp — for allowing a secretive, partisan mapping process and gave the panel until March 28 to remedy the situation.

Voting rights and the Democratic groups behind the card lawsuits also accused Republicans of dragging their feet for pushing a process that was supposed to be completed last fall until the primary season.

As has been the norm after each successive reprimand from the court, a mad scramble ensued behind the scenes as the official action was void. As of Friday afternoon, the Ohio Redistricting Commission had not issued a public statement, scheduled a meeting, or hinted at a timeline to meet its court-mandated deadline.

However, some House Republicans were considering drafting articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, according to a tweet from a lawmaker and an email sent to members of the Republican State Central Committee and shared with the Associated Press. USA Today Network Ohio first reported the push.

O’Connor, 70, is a GOP moderate who has joined the court’s three Democrats in repeatedly invalidating Republican-drawn maps. A former lieutenant governor and director of state public safety, she is stepping down Dec. 31 due to age restrictions.

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine, whose son sits alongside O’Connor on the high court, declined to join the fray against O’Connor when he spoke to reporters on Thursday.

He says he is “taking the lead” in trying to resolve the crisis.

DeWine said he urges the other members of the committee to pass a resolution requiring the three main mappers – one for Senate Republicans, one for House Republicans and one working jointly for the Democratic caucuses – to enter a piece and to draw new maps conforming to the Constitution. .

“There are other options, but the Supreme Court only gave 10 days to do so,” he said. “And the idea that we’re going to be able to go out and hire someone new and have them do this job – and do this job in 10 days – I think presents some very significant challenges.”


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