Election Day is only one week away: November 8, 2022.  Early voting continues. The Board of Elections will be open for early in-person voting every day through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. The Board will be open for voting on Saturday, November 5, from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.; on Sunday, November 6 from 1:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.; and on Monday, November 7 from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

If you have a mail-in ballot which you have voted but have not yet sent back, you will be better off taking that ballot to the Board of Elections in Batavia and putting it in the dropbox outside the office door.  Ballots can be left in the dropbox until 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. The dropbox is monitored constantly and is emptied several times per day.

All of the major issues of our time are on this election’s ballot, from whether the state can tell women what they can do with their own bodies to whether we will start taking action to slow down the climate change which is slowly destroying our planet. Who you vote for will impact these issues dramatically.

More fundamentally, the issue on the ballot this year is what type of society we will have in Ohio. For years, Republicans have tried to depict themselves as the party of “law and order.” From the First Energy bribery scandal to the Republicans repeated drawing of legislative districts that violate the Ohio Constitution, Republicans disregard the law.  As for “order,” one need look no farther than the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the United States Capitol to understand the chaos Republicans have in store.

This is an anecdote. A revealing one. During her first stint on the Ohio House of Representatives, I attended a meeting with State Representative Jean Schmidt in West Union, Ohio. Not long after I got on westbound State Route 32 in Seaman to come home, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw nothing behind me but small dots. When I looked again a few moments later, one of the dots had become a car coming up very fast in the left lane. In much less time than I expected, the car flew past me as if I was parked. As it passed, I saw Representative Schmidt behind the wheel, and I had a brief view of her Ohio General Assembly license plate before her car became a small dot in front of me. This sums up Republicans’ view of the law: it is a club to use against others but is not something which applies to us.  Do we really want people running our government who believe that the rules do not apply to them?

State Issues 1 and 2

A lot of people have been asking me about the two state issues on the ballot this year.  First, I must make a disclaimer: the Ohio Democratic Party and the Clermont County Democratic Party have no formal position on either state issue. What follows is my own analysis of the two issues state issues.

State Issue 1 deals with setting bail for people who have been charged with a crime.  Bail is an amount of money a criminal defendant can deposit to obtain his release from jail prior to trial. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the criminal defendant appears for his trial to obtain a refund of his bail. If the defendant does not appear for trial, the bail is forfeit.

State Issue 1 purports to “require Ohio to consider public safety and other factors when setting the amount of bail.” This comes from the official explanation of the Issue published by Secretary of State Frank LaRose. Courts already have the power to keep criminal defendants in jail pending trial when the court decides whether to grant bail. If there is evidence that a defendant poses a threat to public safety, Ohio courts already have the power to deny bail at any amount and hold that person in jail.

If passed, Issue 1 would have courts deciding that a criminal defendant poses a threat to public safety unless that defendant can come up with a high bail. If the defendant can come up with a high bail, it would be perfectly ok for him to continue to walk the streets. Republicans think how much money a person has determines whether that person is a threat to public safety.

Issue 1 is also an attack on the Ohio Supreme Court as it would deny the Court the power to make rules about bail. Ohio Republicans do not like the Supreme Court because, in the redistricting cases, it tried to enforce the Ohio Constitution.

What the Republicans overlook is that our State Supreme Court justices are elected, just like the General Assembly members. Since Supreme Court justices are elected in a statewide vote, they are arguably more representative of Ohio than General Assembly members elected in small portions of the State.

State Issue 2 is a solution in search of a problem. Issue 2, if passed, purports to amend the State Constitution to provide that only U.S. citizens 18 or older may vote in state and local elections. However, Article V, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution, as currently written, states:

Every citizen of the United States, of the age of eighteen years, who has been a resident of the state, county, township, or ward such time as may be prescribed by law, and has been registered to vote for thirty days, has the qualifications of an elector, and is entitled to vote at all elections.

Under well-established rules of law, people lacking the qualifications stated In Article V, Section 1 may not vote. Nonetheless, the official “Certified Argument for Issue 2” published by Frank LaRose says that “nothing contained in the Ohio Constitution prevents a future state legislature or any Ohio city or Charter County from extending voting rights to non-citizens.”

That is simply wrong insofar as it applies to elections for state offices, county offices in most counties, township offices, and school boards.  (It also begs the question of why we should deny our future elected representatives the flexibility to expand voting rights if needed).

In an effort to devolve power to smaller units of government, Ohio law grants “home rule” powers to its cities and “Charter Counties.” One city in Ohio has allowed non-citizens to vote for city offices.  Presumably, although no one has offered any data on this, a few non-citizens have cast votes for mayor and council in that city. There is no evidence that this has caused any adverse consequences. Likewise, no one is pushing to let non-citizens vote in our larger cities or in elections for state offices. Indeed, current Article V, Section 1 by its terms prohibits non-citizens voting in state elections.

Issues 1 and 2 are dumb and unnecessary, addressing problems which do not exist. So, why are they on the ballot? They are on the ballot as a Republican get out the vote effort.

Republicans realize that even their base is not enthusiastic about J.D. Vance and Mike DeWine.  Had Governor DeWine had only one challenger in this year’s Republican primary, his name would not be on the November ballot. Lacking attractive candidates, Republicans need something else to get their base to the polls. Guarding Ohio against illusory threats from our elected Ohio Supreme Court and from “foreigners” voting was the best they could come up with. I urge everyone to vote no on both State Issue 1 and State Issue 2.

Just A Reminder

Although I have not seen it, I am told that there are people posting on the Internet that voters who received their ballots by mail should not mail their voted ballots back to the Board of Elections but should, instead, take their ballots to their polling place on Election Day.  This it is not legal in Ohio.  The only place you can legally take your voted absentee ballot on Election Day is to the Board of Elections or to the dropbox outside the Board of Elections office.  Please do not do something that will prevent your ballot from being counted.

Stay safe and vote!