COLUMBUS — Changes are coming in Ohio, but not many in this area.
With the passage of a redistricting plan on Wednesday evening, the Ohio House and Senate set the political boundaries for the next 10 years.
The compromise reached will also allow for a single primary election in 2012, an election which is set to take place on March 6. Without the plan in place, a second primary would have taken place in June.
Governor John Kasich signed the bill on Thursday, officially setting the primary date and the map. The Senate passed the bill with a 27-6 vote just an hour and a half after the House passed it 77-17 on Wednesday.
The compromise was needed, said State Senator Lew Gentile (D — Stuebenville) who represents the 30th district. He added that while the final map is not perfect, it is an improvement from the original proposal.
District maps are redrawn every 10 years according to population growth numbers throughout the country.
According to State Representative John Carey (R — Wellston), Ohio did not see as much population growth as other states, dropping the number of congressional districts from 18 to 16.
The loss of two seats in the United States House of Representatives will result in larger districts in Ohio.
Even with fewer districts, things will not be changing for Gallia and Meigs counties on the national level. Both counties will remain a part of the 6th District, which is represented by Congressman Bill Johnson (R — Marietta).
“I don’t think we will see a lot of change,” said Carey. “Things will remain relatively the same in Meigs and Gallia counties.”
While Gallia and Meigs counties will not be changing districts, there will be additions to Johnson’s district. Currently included in the district — in addition to Meigs and Gallia — are Lawrence, Washington, Noble, Monroe, Jefferson, and Columbiana counties, along with portions of Scioto, Athens, Beumont, and Mahoning counties.
The new sixth district will also include Jackson, Guernsey, Harrison and Carroll counties and portions of Muskingham and Tuscarawas counties. Under the new alignment, a smaller portion of Athens County will be included in the 6th District.
Carey added that by holding one primary election in March, Ohio will have more of an impact on the Presidential Primary. The move will also save the state an estimated $15 million, along with making things less confusing for Ohio voters.
“At the end of the day, I felt that it was my responsibility to protect Ohio taxpayers by finding a way to clean up the mess caused by this flawed process,” Representative Debbie Phillips (D — Athens) emphasized. “Redistricting has been badly mismanaged, and I urge the Inspector General and the Legislative Inspector General to investigate these abuses of the process. In the meantime, in order to reduce confusion for the voters, take steps towards reform, and save scarce resources, we came to a compromise yesterday.”
Ohio’s state, local and U.S. Senate primaries were planned for March, but the presidential and U.S. House primaries were scheduled to take place in June.
House Bill 369 eliminates the June 12, 2012 primary election, and establishes March 6, 2012, as the date of the single primary election in 2012. The bill also reinstates the August 7, 2012 special election. School districts are able to submit tax levy and bond issue questions at elections on August 7, 2012 and November 6, 2012.
The bill set the filing deadline for the primaries as December 30, allowing for candidates who had planned for the late primary to still file.
The decisions to split the primaries was made in October to give lawmakers more time to compromise on the boundaries.
The bill also establishes a task force to recommend changes to the mapmaking process.
U.S. Congressional districts are not the only political boundaries changing prior to the 2012 elections.
The Ohio House of Representatives and Senate have also seen realignment take place.
Meigs County — which is currently represented by the 92nd district — will be part of the 94th district. Meigs will remain in the same district as Athens County, and will be joined by a portion of Washington County.
Gallia County — along with Jackson, Lawrence and part of Vinton counties — will be part of the 93rd district.
The one major change for the area will come in the State Senate.
Meigs County will shift districts, moving to the 30th District. Currently, Meigs County is part of the 20th District, which is represented by Troy Balderson (R — Zanesville). Gentile, who currently represents the 30th District, is running for reelection in 2012 after being appointed to the Senate seat this year.
The 30th District will include nine full counties and part of another.
Gallia County will remain part of the 17th District.