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Mon. 9:47 a.m.: Voting rights groups oppose 3rd try at Ohio Statehouse maps

In this July 2021 file photo, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine promotes a new entrance ramp onto I-70 in Columbus, Ohio. A political stalemate over Ohio’s new legislative maps has plunged the state into confusion. As members of a new map-drawing commission defended themselves against potential contempt charges for failing to meet the latest court order requiring them to stop gerrymandering, top leaders were urging lawmakers to delay the May 3 primary. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh-Huggins, File)

COLUMBUS (AP) — Voting rights and Democratic groups in Ohio filed objections today to a third set of Ohio Statehouse maps.

The lines for Ohio House and Ohio Senate districts were approved Thursday by Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission. The panel acted a week late after its members hit an impasse and were ordered to appear in person at what would have been an extraordinary contempt-of-court faceoff with justices of the Ohio Supreme Court.

The court continued the hearing Friday and prepared to hear another round of argument on why the maps fail to comply with new redistricting rules approved by Ohio voters. It invalidated the first two sets of maps as unconstitutionally gerrymandered to unduly favor Republicans, who drew the maps.

The unwavering Republican line that has been approving map after map began to falter last week, with Republican Auditor Keith Faber voting no, along with commission Democrats, and expressing concerns over the latest lines’ constitutionality.

The panel rejected a Democrat-drawn set of maps that the minority party argued would have met all constitutional requirements.

Petitioners in the case include the ACLU of Ohio, League of Women Voters of Ohio, Common Cause, CAIR-Ohio and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. As part of the three separate lawsuits on the matter, they also have submitted maps they contend would be constitutional.

Ohio voters have given the high court original and exclusive jurisdiction over commission-passed maps, while, in an as-yet-never-litigated conundrum, also having precluded the court from forcing a map to be used that did not receive commission approval.

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