In 2018, electors voted to create nine districts in the City of Columbus and add two additional council members, for a total of nine councilmembers, representing each of the nine districts. The City will be beginning its districting effort at the end of 2020 and it will carry through the end of 2021. As part of this effort, a five-member Council Residential Districting Commission will be seated and produce three maps that will be submitted to Council. Council will be required to approve one of those maps without making changes by the end of 2021. Districts will provide geographic diversity. All citizens retain the power to vote on all of their council representatives.
December 15, 2020: Application to be a commissioner opens
January 21, 2021: Application to be a commissioner closes
February 2021: Council considers applications and appoints Commission members. Mayor and Council President appoint Commission Chair.
March 1, 2021: Commission seated and commission meetings begin, date TBD
April 2021- August 2021: Commission community meetings and Commission meetings, dates TBD
September 2021: First iteration of maps will be distributed to the public for public view and comment for 30 days.
October 2021: Commission meetings, date TBD
November 2021: Second iteration of maps will be distributed to the public for public view and comment for 30 days
December 2021: Council votes on the maps and the Commission is dissolved
Council Residential Districting Commission Membership
The Council Residential Districting Commission is required to be seated by March 1, 2021. The commission shall be formed as follows: “by a two-thirds vote the council shall appoint four members, and the fifth member, who shall serve as chair of the commission, shall be jointly appointed by the mayor and president of council. All members must be qualified electors of the city. Members should reflect, to the extent practicable, the diversity of the city.” No person may serve on the commission if the person is an elected official (except precinct committee members), a lobbyist registered with the City of Columbus, a candidate for elected office, or a city employee. The appointing authority may remove a member of the commission for neglect of duty, gross misconduct, failure to meet the qualification herein, or inability to discharge the duties of the commission, and such decision shall be final. All vacancies shall be filled in the same manner prescribed for the original appointment.
Map creation and timeline
The districting commission will create and submit three districting plans which lay out the boundaries of the nine council districts for the city of Columbus. By the end of 2021, Council must adopt one of the three proposed maps without making any changes to it. The commission is supposed to use the following criteria when creating the maps:
1. The proposed maps must comply with applicable state and federal law, including the Voting Rights Act.
2. The districts cannot vary significantly in population; the largest district by population cannot exceed the smallest by more than one percent.
3. The districts have to be “geographically contiguous,” i.e. every district has to share at least one border with another district.
4. The district boundaries should “encourage geographic compactness,” meaning that the districts should not attempt to connect disparate but denser population centers by using corridors of low density.
5. To the extent practicable, district boundaries shall be drawn to maintain the geographic integrity of a neighborhood or community of interest.
6. The commission should try to draw district boundaries using the boundaries of existing election precincts and geographically identifiable boundaries, such as roads and waterways.
7. Districts shall not be drawn for the overt purpose of favoring or disfavoring any political group.
In 2023, the district maps will appear on the ballot for both the primary and general election.
Council Structural Changes:
Members running in 2021 will only be eligible to run for a two-year term. In 2023, all nine seats for Council will be open. At the first Council session in 2024, all of the members elected in the 2023 general election will draw lots to determine which four members initially serve a two-year term and which five members serve a four-year term in order to stagger the terms.
Frequently asked questions
Frequently Asked Questions about the districting process and the Council Residential Districting Commission
Go to the FAQ