(Headline USA) Ohio’s top elections official is pausing certain preparations for the May 3 primary in the face of a court decision invalidating a third set of GOP-drawn maps of new legislative districts.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose coupled a directive issued to county election boards Thursday night with a two-page letter to fellow members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission explaining that counties are now “simply out of time” to complete the work necessary to hold elections for state representatives and state senators as scheduled.
His order prohibits counties from altering or sending ballots until further notice and pauses reprogramming of voter registration and tabulating systems. It instructs boards to continue recruiting poll workers, advertising voter registration information and conducting other tasks unrelated to the maps.
The secretary of state does not have the power to change Ohio’s primary election date. LaRose said that decision now must come from either the Legislature or “immediate action of a federal court.”
U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley—a Democrat-affiliated Bill Clinton appointee who had paused a connected lawsuit by a group of GOP voters despite their pleas for speed—indicated Thursday that he would “take up this matter promptly.”
Meanwhile, a growing chorus of interest groups and politicians of both parties has begun calling on lawmakers to delay the primary—to June, or even August—in light of the latest ruling.
LaRose blasted national Democrats and the Ohio Supreme Court for the predicament.
He accused the Biden administration of intentionally delaying census results on which maps are built, deep-pocketed “out of state special interests” of a time-eating litigation strategy and the high court’s bipartisan majority of dawdling in its deliberations.
“Regardless, we’ve never let up in the effort to make a complete May 3 primary election a success, and I’m confident we’re prepared to do that,” he wrote.
The U.S. Census Bureau was supposed to deliver new population tallies to states last spring, kicking off the once-per-decade redrawing of political boundaries.
The agency attributed a monthslong delay to difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic in conducting the head count, which mostly took place in 2020—during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump.
However, the Biden administration subsequently created further delays by readjusting the tabulations to make the counts more favorable to Democrats, including a drawn-out court battle over whether to include illegal immigrants in the count.
Left-wing activist groups, led by Eric Holder’s oligarch-funded National Democratic Redistrciting Committee have also sought to challenge many GOP legislatures with “sue till blue” lawfare suits that speciously accuse the lawmakers of gerrymandering.
However, the NDRC has stated that its own purpose is to secure advantages for Democrats, and it has routinely turned a blind eye to overt examples of gerrymandering in blue states.
In its decision Wednesday night, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the third set of legislative maps remains gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, in violation of the state Constitution.
Because Ohio’s top judges are elected through a party system, four of them are listed as Republicans and three as Democrats. However, RINO Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor has joined court Democrats in invalidating the maps, provoking outrage from GOP legislators.
It’s time to impeach Maureen O’Connor now.
— Rep. Scott Wiggam (@Scott_Wiggam) March 17, 2022
The court faulted two leading lawmakers on the Republican-dominated Redistricting Commission—Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Bob Cupp—and accused them of allowing a secretive, partisan map-making process. It gave the panel until March 28 to remedy the situation.
As has been standard following each successive court rebuke, a mad scramble ensued behind the scenes while official action was nil. The Ohio Redistricting Commission neither issued a public statement, scheduled a meeting nor hinted at a timeline for addressing its latest court-imposed deadline.
He said he is urging fellow members of the commission to pass a resolution requiring the three top mapmakers—one for Senate Republicans, one for House Republicans and one working jointly for the Democratic caucuses—to get in a room and draw new, constitutionally compliant maps.
“There are other options, but the Supreme Court has only given 10 days to do this,” he said. “And the idea that we’re going to be able to go out and hire somebody new and have them do this work—and do this work in 10 days—I think presents some very significant challenges.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press