🗳️ November's state ballot issues
Ohioans are expected to vote on bail reform and voting rights this November.
Driving the news: Last week, the Ohio Ballot Board approved the wording of both constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by Republican majorities in the state Legislature.
- Opponents have until this week to challenge the measures at the Ohio Supreme Court, per Cleveland.com, but it's unclear if this will happen.
What it does: Removes the Ohio Supreme Court's authority on determining bail and requires courts to consider public safety when setting it.
Background: The state Supreme Court recently ruled public safety shouldn't be a factor in setting cash bail — it should instead focus on ensuring attendance in court.
Catch up quick: Bail reform advocates have long argued that cash bail disproportionately impacts poor defendants and keeps them in jail despite a constitutional presumption of innocence.
What they're saying: "Fear of future crime is not justification to use financial means to deny a person their constitutional right to bail," Blaise Katter, the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers' public policy chair, told lawmakers during testimony.
The other side: Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and other prosecutors support the amendment.
- "The presumption of innocence in court does not require the pretense that a career criminal is harmless on the streets," Yost testified.
What it does: Requires Ohio voters to be 18 years old and registered to vote for at least 30 days before an election to cast a ballot.
State of play: The Ohio Constitution already requires this, but state law lets individual communities expand local voting rights.
- Only one does: Yellow Springs passed a 2020 charter amendment to allow non-U.S. citizens to vote in village elections.
- No noncitizen has actually registered to vote there since it passed, per the Legislative Service Commission.
Nonetheless, Secretary of State Frank LaRose joined GOP lawmakers in taking up the cause.
- LaRose has called voting a right earned only by "birth or the oath of citizenship."
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