State Ballot Issues 1, 2 Address Non-Problems, Should Be Voted Against

To the Editor:

Neither party is talking about the statewide ballot issues. Issue 1 and Issue 2. I repeat, statewide.

So what’s the story? As far as I can tell, the Republican-majority legislature voted to put them on the ballot. They didn’t pass them as legislation. These legislators are asking you — quietly — to make them amendments to our state constitution, only removable by another statewide vote.

Issues 1 and 2 are not grassroots proposals or initiatives because they are for non-problems — dare I say, fake problems.

We already have a bail system, judges already use their judgment about public safety, and people are pushing for bail reform. So Issue 1, to require that judges consider public safety — which they already do — is not respecting judges. Further, it also takes power from the Ohio Supreme Court and gives it to the legislature to set bail considerations. It could further punish innocent people with jail time. The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Policy Counsel Patrick Higgins called this “guilty until proven wealthy.”

We also already have a voting system which requires citizenship to vote in judicial, state, and federal elections. Sometimes local entities, such as school boards and city councils, want non-citizens or not-yet-citizens to participate in local elections. Only one locality in Ohio, Yellow Springs, has done this so far. (Eleven municipalities in Maryland and two in Vermont allow non-citizens voting in local elections.) Issue 2 would ban local entities from allowing their non-citizens to vote in local elections. So this too addresses a non-problem.

Perhaps political operatives hope that anti-non-citizen language will motivate some Republican voters to vote. In a revealing piece in GQ Magazine in July 2019, Jay Willis concluded that this effort across various states “has less to do with real-world election security concerns than it does with facilitating Republican wins at the ballot box.”

“Issue 1 has everything to do with politics and nothing to do with policy,” ACLU Ohio Policy Director Jocelyn Rosnick said.

I don’t actually know what motivated these ballot proposals. I just know they’re unnecessary and that they limit our ability to make more finely-tuned policies. Please vote against sneaky Issues 1 and 2.    

Aliza Weidenbaum, Oberlin resident