Local Muslim Groups Host Community Redistricting Event
Local Muslim organizations met at a Dayton mosque Wednesday night to talk about Ohio’s redistricting process and how community members can get involved.
The Center for American Islamic Relations — or CAIR- Ohio — has been hosting map drawing events in Islamic centers all across the state. Attendees from the community used a website called DistrictR to create their own legislative maps.
Ohio is redrawing its federal and statewide political districts this year. In May 2018, voters overwhelmingly passed an amendment that would make redistricting a public process, which includes holding public hearings.
CAIR - Ohio’s goal is to submit as many maps as possible to the Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission, an independent, bipartisan committee made up of statewide leaders and activists. The OCRC will then submit the maps and public testimony to the official committee redrawing the lines.
Tala Dahbour is CAIR-Ohio’s policy director. She says gerrymandering has split up Muslim communities and diluted their voting power as a result.
“I can walk five minutes east to my Muslim neighbors and they'll be voting in a different district than I am,” Dahbour said. “But we have the same experiences, we go to the same high school, we go to the same mosque. And as Muslims, we have similar lived experiences.”
In 2020, Ohio Democrats received 43 percent of votes, but only 4 out of 16 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dahbour says fighting against gerrymandering is a way to make sure Muslim voices are heard.
“There's no shortage of, you know, Islamophobia, xenophobia within our political discourse,” Dahbour said. “That's what informs the policies that are made. And it's important that, you know, if we're going to be the subject of policy, that we at least have adequate representation in the government to advocate for ourselves.”
CAIR-Ohio’s next stop is in Cincinnati. They must submit community maps by September 1. which is when the official map drawing process is due. The deadline for the congressional district maps is September 30.
In the meantime, the official redistricting commission will continue to host public hearings through August.