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Candidates call out gerrymandering in Ohio, lines set to be redrawn for 2022 election

Ohio Statehouse  (WSYX/WTTE)
Ohio Statehouse (WSYX/WTTE)
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As votes started coming in and races were called Tuesday, some Congressional candidates in Ohio started calling out gerrymandering.

Republican Troy Balderson held his seat in the 12th house district.

Democratic challenger Alaina Shearer tweeted: "Now is a good time to talk to your kids about gerrymandering and Democracy."

It's leading to questions like what's the situation in Ohio?

"The Supreme Court has pretty much left it up to the states to do that as long as there is no clear intent to deprive someone of votes," said Dr. Marc Clauson a Professor of History, Law and Honors at Cedarville University.

Maps will be redrawn for state legislature and congressional races, reflected in the 2022 election.

Dr. Clauson said the census plays a role, as lines are redrawn after.

"We have a census. They will take a look at the statistics to see how the demographics have changed, where people have moved, where people moved away from," he said.

There are two different processes to redraw lines at the state level and for congressional races.

Dr. Richard Gunther of The Ohio State University believes Ohio constitutional amendments from 2015 and 2018, approved by voters, will play a big part moving forward.

"I would be horrified if it led to no change at all, because that is really the purpose of the reforms that we agreed to. We want to increase competitiveness somehow...we want to have compact districts," said the Professor Emeritus of Political Science.

He also points to reforms aimed at making it more possible for voters to vote out incumbents if wanted and less splitting of cities.

Gunther also notes provisions that could lean towards more proportional representation.

"That means if Republicans receive 56% of the votes in those elections, which is about the figure we are looking at, they should receive something close to 56% of the seats. That is not what we see now," he said.

Another potential wrinkle is talk Ohio could lose a congressional district, going from 16 to 15, as we see the population of other states rapidly grow.

But, Dr. Clauson isn't totally convinced, saying Ohio's population has been rather stable.

"Number one, it is very, very likely, and number two it is going to have a very significant impact on the drawing of district boundaries for the U.S. Congress," said Dr. Gunther.

In the past nine years or so, U.S. House seats have never flipped parties in Ohio.

The process to redraw lines for Ohio's Congressional Districts is complex.

"This is a very complex process, which still in three different pathways would involve the state legislature and in one of them would put this back in the Redistricting Commission. The bottom line is three of these four would require a significant amount of buy in by the minority party in order for a plan to be passed. If that cannot be achieved the fourth pathway would involve the ability of one party alone to draw the maps. However, it is extremely important to note that unlike the previous map drawing, provisions in the constitution we have written have some very, very stringent requirement guidelines that must be followed," said Dr. Gunther.

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Experts do suggest Republicans may have the upper hand. They did well Tuesday night statewide and occupy the governorship and other top spots.

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