COLUMBUS, Ohio — Congressional redistricting proposals introduced by lawmakers faced criticism Thursday. Several groups that have pushed for redistricting reform spoke out against plans brought forward by House and Senate Republicans.

What You Need To Know

  • Lawmakers are being tasked with drawing new congressional maps for Ohio

  • States are required by law to redraw congressional maps every 10 years to account for shifts and changes to population

  • Ohio’s 16 congressional districts will be reduced by one due to other states gaining population

  • Democrats and others have criticized maps proposed by Republicans for being gerrymandered

Simultaneous hearings took place in the Ohio House and Senate Thursday on the new congressional district map proposals. The two Republican maps that were unveiled Wednesday were heavily criticized.

"Simply put, the map is a textbook case of gerrymandering and it does not follow the direction given by the Ohio Constitution,” said Chris Tavenor with the Ohio Environmental Council Action Fund​.

For the past 10 years, Republicans have had a 12-4 advantage in Congress even though only a little more than half of the population has voted for Republicans statewide. Despite that, the GOP's new proposals call for eight safe Republican districts, two Democratic safe districts and five toss-ups. However, Dave's Redistricting, a redistricting analysis tool, says those five districts lean Republican.

Lawmakers must create a new map with 15 districts instead of the 16 Ohio currently has because the state has not grown as fast as others.

"Districts should reflect how Ohioans vote and that would make some real competitive seats. As it stands, Ohio is not a red state. It's a rigged state," said Kobie Christian with For Our Future Ohio.

Senate Democrats released their plan more than a month ago. Democrats said their map would likely result in eight Republican and seven Democratic districts. That idea got more support from redistricting reform groups.

"It anchors congressional districts in each of Ohio's major cities: Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Dayton and Akron to ensure that each of them is adequately represented wholly and not just in part," said Katy Shanahan with All On The Line.

The Republicans said their plans would keep cities like the three C's together while grouping their surrounding counties in with rural districts. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Whip Rob McColley, R-Napoleon, said his caucus' plan is constitutional because Ohio's 11.7 million people are equally divided.

"This map truly balances 'one person, one vote' with 13 districts having exactly 786,630 people and two districts having 786,629. That is as close as we can get as possible to 'one person, one vote," said McColley. ​

Both chairs of the House and Senate committees that heard testimony Thursday said there will be more hearings, but did not say when. The General Assembly has until the end of the month to either pass a 10-year bipartisan map or a one-sided map that lasts four years.​​