(Columbus) – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose formally rejected contempt of court accusations today in a filing with the Ohio Supreme Court that both reinforces the statutory timeline for election administration and reminds redistricting critics of their prior agreement to a key deadline for adopting a new General Assembly district plan.
A court filing submitted on behalf of LaRose reiterated that all parties on both sides of the redistricting litigation agreed before a Federal Court panel “that April 20 was the deadline for any new redistricting maps to be adopted that could be used in time for a legislative primary election on August 2, 2022.”
“I’ve been very clear on this timeline for weeks now, and we’ve been communicating the urgency of this issue to both the State and Federal courts,” said LaRose. “The Federal Court’s majority opinion reiterated several times that all parties involved in the litigation agreed with our stated deadlines for passing a new map and conducting a second primary election.”
The majority opinion in Gonidakis, et al. v. LaRose clearly establishes this:
- “The Ohio Supreme Court’s most recent deadline for the Commission to craft a fifth map (which would be subject to a fifth round of litigation) falls after the so-called ‘drop dead’ date of April 20. That is when every party to this litigation agrees a map would have to be in place for the state to conduct a primary that both complies with state election law and allows for an orderly general election in November.” (p. 2)
- “… All parties agree that April 20 is the drop-dead date to choose a new map that can be implemented in time for a primary and general election. That date has come, but a new map has not. So now this court must select a map to ensure Ohioans may vote in a state-legislative election this year.” (p. 3)
- “All parties agree that the primary should be moved to August 2. But they disagree about the appropriate map.” (p. 17)
- “As all parties agree, Ohio’s last date for implementing a new map under current law is April 20. And that date has come.” (p. 24)
The filing submitted to the Ohio Supreme Court today adds, “Petitioners cannot ignore realities and the established deadlines (that Secretary LaRose does not have the authority to change) that they acknowledged in the Gonidakis Case and take contrary positions calling for contempt in this action.”
“The political activists causing this chaos are hoping Ohioans don’t notice their hypocrisy,” said LaRose. “They know the law is clear on this issue, and they’ve said as much in one court, while running to the other to cry contempt. They’re making a mockery of our judicial system to score some cheap political points. If they’re looking for contemptible behavior, they should find a mirror.”
“All parties agreed that the deadline for adopting a new map has passed, and that’s exactly why the Ohio Redistricting Commission did not draft a new map,” said LaRose. “In fact, the association that represents Ohio’s bipartisan election officials took the same position. No one’s acting with contempt. We’re trying to run a fair and honest election on the same timeline we’ve used in this state for decades. It’s unfortunate that the process of reaching consensus on a map is now in conflict with the right of Ohioans to vote in a primary election, but that’s the reality of where we are. The federal court majority recognizes that, and so did everyone involved in the litigation. To suddenly feign outrage and demand contempt proceedings simply because we did exactly what we told both state and federal courts was required under the law is beyond hypocritical, but it’s sadly not unexpected from this hyper-partisan cabal which continues to ignore the basic principles of election administration, jeopardizing the orderly election which Ohioans deserve in a vain self-interested quest to amass political power.”
“The only contemptuous behavior here is by the handful of Ohioans who will stop at nothing to do the bidding of deep-pocketed, out-of-state special interests looking for a partisan power grab. They’re willing to corrode the credibility of the Ohio Supreme Court as the apolitical arbiter of the law and risk causing a disorderly rushed election all for petty political gain. I won’t allow these groups to inject chaos into Ohio’s elections because giving Ohio orderly and trustworthy elections is my mission and serving the voters of our state is my duty. Ohioans know who’s acting contemptibly here and will remember that these out-of-state special-interest groups tried to gamble with our sacred right to have an orderly election.”
Note: The Ohio Secretary of State’s elections director testified in the federal district court case Gonidakis, et al. v. LaRose that Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections would need at least two weeks to program any new map into their systems, and then the usual 90-day primary election period to administer all Ohio statutory deadlines for an August 2 primary election. That timeline set April 20 as the deadline for adopting a new map. The court testimony also stated that August 2 is the only date on which a primary election can be held without disrupting the administration of the November 8 general election. (April 20 to May 3 = 2 weeks and then May 4 to August 2 = 90-day statutory timeline for election administration).
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