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Federal lawsuit seeks immediate change to Ohio congressional maps

Parties suing the state are accusing the Ohio Redistricting Commission and legislative leaders of ignoring racial data and federal anti-discrimination laws.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Editor's Note: The above video features previous reporting on redistricting in Ohio

As the Ohio Supreme Court weighs its decision on congressional and legislative redistricting, a group involved in a federal lawsuit wants to see the maps changed immediately.

Parties suing the state accusing the Ohio Redistricting Commission and legislative leaders of ignoring racial data and federal anti-discrimination laws have asked a U.S. District Court to demand a redraw of congressional and Ohio Senate maps to comply with federal law.

The lawsuit was filed in December, but according to recent documents filed in the case, the two Youngstown residents represented in the lawsuit — the Rev. Kenneth L. Simon and Helen Youngblood — want to see new maps immediately to reverse maps drawn by a group Simon and Youngblood say “ignored the totality of circumstances and failed to engage in a searching practical evaluation of past and present political reality in the challenged districts.”

“Defendants gave specific instructions to their staff responsible for the drawing of district maps to disregard race, racial bloc voting or any other racial consideration in connection with district configuration,” attorney Percy Squire, representing the Youngstown residents.

The lawsuit specifically singles out the 6th U.S. Congressional District and the 33rd Ohio Senate district map as violations of anti-discrimination law. Squire claims the state Senate district “unlawfully dilutes plaintiffs’ voting strength through districting by separating Mahoning from Trumbull County.”

“The 6th Congressional District dilutes plaintiffs’ voting strength by submerging plaintiffs into a racially polarized voting block of voters located in several racially polarized voting counties south of Mahoning County,” the lawsuit states.

The Ohio Supreme Court is still deliberating on U.S. district and state House and Senate maps after three constitutional challenges of the legislative maps and two against the method and makeup of the congressional maps.

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