With all the proposed ballot issues flying around Ohio, our ballots could start looking like California’s, which frequently lists dozens of such measures.
Groups on the right are already gathering signatures to try to put two constitutional amendments on the ballot: a “Personhood” amendment, which would give a fertilized egg the legal rights of a living person, and “right to work,” which would cripple attempts of unions to organize workplaces.
They may be joined shortly by two constitutional ballot initiatives coming from the other direction. While Voters First Ohio’s proposal for a nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw congressional districts has no ideological bent, it’s unlikely to be supported by Ohio Republicans, since it mandates drawing new districts for the 2014 elections, eliminating the advantage Republicans gave themselves through the partisan districting process. Some Republicans have said they are open to changing the process — but only after the next census, for the 2022 elections.
The other initiative is called Right to Marry Ohio and would not only rescind Ohio’s “Defense of Marriage” amendment, passed in 2004, but grant gay couples full marriage rights. An interesting sidenote: one of the group’s three state co-chairs is former Cuyahoga County commissioner Tim Hagan, who lost his job early last year when the new form of county government took effect.
Both groups are working now to gather the initial 1,000 signatures they need to get approval for ballot language. Then they can print up petitions and send their troops out to collect the 385,000 valid signatures they need to put their issues on the ballot. If they are successful by July, the issues would appear this November. If not, they can keep working and aim for next year’s ballot. — Anastasia Pantsios