2/29/12

Ohio Statehouse Update: Ohio Election Preview

Attorneys & Professionals

Every 10 years, following the census, the Ohio Apportionment Board is tasked with redrawing Ohio’s House and Senate districts to reflect changes in population. The Ohio legislative districts must include 99 House Districts and 33 Senate Districts. Four Republicans – Governor John Kasich, Senate President Tom Niehaus, Auditor of State Dave Yost and Secretary of State Jon Husted – served on the Apportionment Board along with a lone Democrat, House Minority Leader Armond Budish. Amid complaints that the proposed new districts were skewed too heavily in favor of Republicans, the Board adopted the new maps on September 30, 2011. In January, a group of former Democrat lawmakers filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the new maps. The Court issued an initial ruling that allows the new districts to stand for this year’s election, but plans to hear additional arguments over whether the new maps should remain in place for the remainder of the decade.

Similarly, just as Ohio’s legislative districts must be redrawn following the decennial census, so must Ohio’s congressional districts be reconfigured. In Ohio, congressional redistricting is accomplished through passage of legislation by the Ohio General Assembly. The Republican-dominated General Assembly initially passed a bill setting the new districts in September, but due to lack of bipartisan support for an immediate effective date, the bill would have required Ohio to hold two separate primary elections in 2012. However, after Democrats threatened to subject the redistricting legislation to a referendum vote, Republicans and Democrats eventually reached an agreement in December to pass legislation slightly modifying the districts and re-unifying Ohio’s primary election to be held on March 6, 2012. Complicating matters and adding additional concerns to the redistricting debate, Ohio was forced to reduce its number of congressional districts from its current 18 down to 16 due to Ohio’s slow population growth in relation to other states in the U.S. As the March 6 primary election approaches, here is a look at some of the key races that are shaping up in the new state legislative and congressional districts.

Ohio House Primary Races

All of the 99 seats in the Ohio House are up for election this year to two-year terms.

Ohio Senate Primary Races

Of the Ohio Senate’s 33 seats, 17 are up for election this year.

Key Congressional Races

All 16 of the new Congressional districts are up for election this year to two-year terms.

Ballot Issues

It appears that Ohioans may be voting on a myriad of ballot issues during the November general election. Here is a snapshot of ballot issue activities to date:

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