Provided by Hannah News Service
The Ohio Ballot Board in a lengthy meeting Monday approved ballot language for the two constitutional amendments that will go before voters on Tuesday, Nov. 8, as well as the explanation of both issues.
At the beginning of Monday’s meeting, Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the chairman of the Ballot Board, said Issue 1 on the ballot will be the proposed constitutional amendment that was passed by the General Assembly as HJR2 (LaRe-Swearingen), which will make public safety a required consideration when setting bail amounts. Issue 2, passed as HJR4 (Seitz-Edwards), bars noncitizens from voting in local elections.
John Martin, an assistant public defender for Cuyahoga County, testified on ballot language for Issue 1, saying it should specify that the amendment applies to monetary bail amounts, adding that there are nonfinancial conditions to the bail process that the resolution did not change.
He and Democrats on the panel also argued that the explanation of the issue did not accurately portray the removal of the Ohio Supreme Court from determining aspects of bail under the amendment.
After a 45-minute recess, the board unanimously approve both the explanation and ballot language with some of the changes suggested by Martin and Democrats.
Rep. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood) testified before the board on Issue 2, arguing that some of the provisions of the amendment are not fully explained. He said language of the amendment could restrict voting to only 18-year-olds, and would remove the limited ability for 17-year-olds to cast a ballot in a primary if they will turn 18 before Election Day.
LaRose told Skindell that he doesn’t read the amendment the way Skindell does.
The Ballot Board took another break to see if members could come up with unanimous agreement on the language and explanation, but returned to pass both as originally proposed by LaRose, with Democratic members Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) and Pavan Parikh voting against.
After the meeting, LaRose told reporters that there wasn’t interest on either side to making changes to the language that would get everyone to vote for the language on Issue 2.
He said he doesn’t think the language or explanations will be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.
The Ballot Board also accepted the arguments for and against each issue.
The arguments for Issue 1, authored by Reps. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester) and D.J. Swearingen (R-Huron) as well as Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), said that voting for the amendment “clearly and unambiguously ensures that courts can consider public safety, among other factors, when setting the financial conditions of bail. The presumption of innocence is a bedrock right in both our nation and our state. However, this presumption does not require the pretense that a career criminal is harmless when released back into the public.”
Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) and Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) wrote the arguments against Issue 1, saying it encourages courts to “gamble on public safety rather than using existing laws to deny bail completely.” They said it will send a message to violent criminals that if they have enough money, they will always be able to get out of jail.
The arguments for Issue 2, written by Reps. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) and Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) and Sen. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati) say that the amendment will close a loophole in the Ohio Constitution that left open would allow a future state Legislature or Ohio city or charter county to extend voting rights to non-citizens. “Allowing non-citizens to vote degrades the value of United States citizenship and is poor public policy.”
Arguments against, authored by Skindell and Reps. Bishara Addison (D-Shaker Heights), Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) said Issue 2 is “cloaked in fear and false patriotism” and “endangers the freedom of every citizen to vote.” They argued that the issue is pushed by “wealthy secret-money special interests from out of state.”