COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the third time, the Supreme Court of Ohio has ruled the General Assembly's proposed maps for state House and Senate districts are unconstitutional.
The court again invalidated the maps in a ruling signed by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor. The Ohio Redistricting Commission is now ordered to (literally) go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan by no later than March 28, just 12 days from now.
Ohio's primary election is currently scheduled for May 3, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose has previously warned further delays in approving maps could put that date in jeopardy. In addition, petition deadlines as well as the start of early and military voting are fast approaching.
"I’ve already started working with members of House and Senate leadership, with minority leaders as well," LaRose told 3News' Will Ujek back on March 4. "They understand it would not be possible at that point to conduct the May 3 primary with those district races, and they'd have to start making decisions on what comes next."
Each time the Republican-controlled General Assembly has approved new maps, lawsuits have claimed the districts have been gerrymandered to unfairly favor the GOP. All three times, the court has agreed, with the Republican O'Connor siding with Democrats in the majority.
These maps are separate from the one that will divide up Ohio's 15 U.S. congressional districts, and those lines have also been challenged in court multiple times. It is unknown if that case could also have an effect on the May 3 primary, as unlike state House and Senate elections, U.S. House candidates aren't required to live in the district they want to represent.