2023 must be an anomaly. Ohio has elections annually. In most years, turnout for the odd-numbered year elections is small. That cannot happen in November 2023. Why? Because State Issue 1, the Reproductive Freedom Amendment, is on the ballot.
Whether and when to give birth is one of the most intimate and important decisions a woman or a couple can make. Republicans and the extremist Right believe the State has the power to make that decision (although they deny that the State has the power to act to stop the spread of deadly diseases). Passing Issue 1 will take the power away from the politicians in Columbus and put it where it belongs: with the woman or couple and their doctor. This is a basic human right. Every thinking person must get out and vote Yes on Issue 1.
Time is, however, short. The deadline to register to vote in the November 2023 election is October 10, only a week from today. Early voting starts October 11, a week from tomorrow. If you are not registered to vote, register. You can register to vote online at olvr.ohiosos.gov. If you are not sure you are properly registered to vote, check your registration status at voterlookup.ohiosos.gov/voterlookup.aspx. If you are registered, go ahead and vote. Why wait for November 7 when the weather could be funky?
Moving beyond this year’s election, 2024 will be a major election. You probably know that 2024 is a presidential election. Ohio will also be re-electing Sherrod Brown to the United States Senate in 2024. While President and U.S. Senate are important and exciting, many other very important offices will also be on the ballot. These offices are the ones for which we need people to step up.
Perhaps most important, all 99 seats in the Ohio House of Representatives are up for election in 2024. Most of the laws that affect our lives, from when a woman may have an abortion to when you must drive with your car’s headlights on, are made in Columbus, Ohio rather than Washington, D.C. Different parts of Clermont County send two people to the Ohio House to help make our laws. House District 62 covers Loveland, Milford, Miami Township, Union Township, Goshen Township, and Stonelick Township. House District 63 covers the rest of Clermont County and the western part of Brown County. Both seats are currently held by people firmly committed to an extreme far right agenda and all indications are that both are running for re-election.
Clermont County needs people with more reasonable views to run for these seats so that Clermont voters (and Brown County voters) have a choice. If the incumbents run unopposed, they get-elected so long as they get a single vote. We deserve better. We deserve some choice.
The eligibility requirements to run for the Ohio House are few. You must be a registered voter in the district in which you are running. You must have lived in the district for a year by November 5, 2024. Finally, you need to be nominated in the March 2024 Democratic primary election. To get on the primary election ballot, you need to file a petition on Ohio Secretary of State for 2-F. The petition must have signatures from 50 registered voters in the district who are either registered Democrats or who are not registered with any party. The completed for 2-F with the signatures must be filed with the Clermont County Board of Elections by 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 20, 2023.
We need people to step up and run for these two Ohio House seats. Reducing the overwhelming Republican dominance in the General Assembly that has resulted from and perpetuates the Republican gerrymandering is something Ohio desperately needs. Equally important, having Democratic candidates makes incumbents holding these seats actually run for re-election. If they are opposed, the right-wingers currently representing us in Columbus will have to put their records and their agenda before the voters and answer the voters’ questions. That is how democratic elections are supposed to occur. That will not happen if we allow these two right-wingers to run for re-election unopposed. We need people to step up and hold these incumbents to account.
As I mentioned above, both the Ohio House and the Ohio Senate are severely gerrymandered. That means the boundaries of the House and Senate districts are drawn to assure that Republicans will be elected in most of the districts.
The district boundaries could be drawn differently to create many more districts where either a Republican or a Democrat could win. However, Republicans control the re-districting process and use that power to enhance their majorities in both Houses of the General Assembly well beyond the level of their support statewide. Despite amendments to the Ohio Constitution which voters overwhelming approved about ten years ago, and despite multiple rulings from the Ohio Supreme Court last year that the current districts violate the Ohio Constitution, we are still using those districts.
You may have read that the gerrymandered districts were recently re-adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission by a “bipartisan” vote. That is literally true. However, that simple statement does not at all convey the reality of the situation.
General Assembly districts are drawn by a body called the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Under current law, that Commission has seven members: the Governor, the Ohio Secretary of State, the State Auditor, and one member from each party in each of the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives. Thus, five of the seven Commission members are Republicans.
The two Democrats on the Commission voted for the districts which we will use in 2024 because, had they forced the Republicans to approve districts on a purely partisan vote, those districts would almost certainly have been even more one-sided than what we have. The two Democrats on the Commission had to choose the lesser evil. Both Commission Democrats will tell you that the “bipartisan” districts are neither fair nor legal. However, had the two Democrats voted against these districts, it is virtually certain that Ohio voters would have gotten districts which were even worse.
There is a possible solution to the gerrymandering problem in Ohio, which also affects Ohio’s districts for the United States House of Representatives. People are already working on implementing that solution and the Republicans are already working on thwarting that solution. More about that in a later article. Stay tuned!
Stay safe and Vote Yes on Issue 1.