On Nov. 6, or for those voting now during Ohio's early voting period, voters will see two (2) state issues on their ballots.
State Issue 1 is a question presented under Article XVI, Section 3 of Ohio's Constitution and simply put, says " shall there be a convention to revise, alter, or amend the Ohio Constitution?" As it stands, the constitution dictates that, every 20 years, voters speak as to whether or not they want to see a convention to revise, amend, or rewrite any or all parts of it. Since 1932, when the question appeared on the ballot, Ohioans have voted no on the issue and it now appears, for the fifth time on Ohio's general election ballot.
While critics, and this author, agree that Ohio's constitution could use an update, the issue is always who should do it and what should be the procedure behind it.
In 2011, the State Legislature created the Constitutional Modernization Commission which ultimately will have the power to propose changes to the constitution in what would hope would be an organized, well-thought out and concise manner.
The commission includes twelve (12) legislators, six each from the House and Senate and divided evenly amongst Democrats and Republicans. Those twelve will then chose another twenty(20) members from applicants throughout Ohio. This group is charged with submitting proposed changes to the entire General Assembly every two years, beginning at the end of this year and only after two-thirds vote to recommend those changes. Ultimately, Ohio's electorate would vote on the changes if each chamber of the General Assembly approves the same by a three-fifths vote.
While this is simply some background behind what is churning in Columbus, for now, Ohioans, by voting yes, state that they want the constitutional convention to look at making proposed changes. By voting no, Ohioans state that they do not want the same and support something similarly created as above-noted.
State Issue 2 is the more controversial one of the two and its language is whether or not Ohioans want " to create a state-funded commission to draw legislative and congressional districts." The 2010 census required the redrawing of Ohio's voting districts, or redistricting, all governed by Article 11 of the Ohio Constitution. It has been in place since the early 1970's and is currently performed by the Apportionment Board, comprising of the governor, secretary of state, auditor and a person appointed from each party by the House and Senate leaders. As of today, both of those appointees are state legislators.
State Issue 2 would create a state-funded commission of appointed officials and thus remove the authority of elected officials to perform the redistricting task.
The Commission, if approved, will consist of 12 members-4 affiliated with the largest political party, 4 affiliated with the second largest political party and 4 not affiliated with either of the two.
The process would begin with the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court appointing 8 members from Ohio Appellate Judges and they then would chose the members of the Commission.
While the ballot language goes into further detail about the process, applicant appointments and exactly how the redistricting would work, Ohio voters simply need to first know simply the basics of how this full process could be implemented.
Proponents of state Issue 2 feel that the current system is wrought with politics and that the party in power, every ten years, is able to draw districts to help their candidates remain or be voted into office. Opponents of State Issue 2 feel that it removes the right of Ohio voters to have a voice in determining state legislative and Congressional district lines, while giving its authority to a new, unelected and bureaucratic commission.
By voting yes on Nov. 6, Ohioans agree to change the above current system and replace it with the new state-funded commission.
By voting no, Ohioans agree to keep the current system that we operate under pursuant to the Ohio Constitution.