Why 2017 Isn’t Your Typical ‘Off-Yearヤ Election

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Here is a stat for you: 43 percent. Can you guess what this number refers to?

This is the percent of Ohio registered voters that voted in the last “off-year” election in 2015. In comparison, 71 percent of registered voters turned out for the 2016 election.

Election Day is quickly approaching on Tuesday, Nov. 7. While this is an off-year election, there are some serious reasons to visit the polls.

You might think Issue 2 is the only item on the ballot, but I can assure you this isn’t the case! You’ll find another statewide ballot issue (Issue 1) and many local elections.

In fact, more than 1,500 local issues will be voted on around our state.

Food for Thought

In addition to the content of these ballot issues and the policy behind them, here are a few questions you should ask yourself before casting your vote:

  • Does Issue 1 belong in the Ohio Revised Code?

  • Should the Ohio Constitution be amended for Issue 2?

  • Should these issues be decided by ballot or are they best decided as part of the normal policy-making process in the Ohio General Assembly? (As part of the legislative process, issues receive a full debate and undergo possible revisions.)

With this in mind, you can learn more about these two statewide issues and how to find information about your local election below.

Issue 1

Referred to as Marsy’s Law, this is a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to expand constitutional rights for victims of crimes and their families.

Specifically, Issue 1 seeks to repeal and replace the existing language in Section 10a of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Ohio. A “yes” vote will approve the measure.

Who supports Issue 1: This initiative is backed by crime victims' groups. California, Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana have passed similar initiatives.

Several newspaper editorial boards, along with more than 300 public officials and 32 social and community service organizations, support this issue. Henry Nicholas, whose involvement in ballot initiatives activism was spurred by his sister Marsy’s murder, is the primary funder.

Visit the website for issue 1

Who opposes Issue 1: There is no organized campaign against Issue 1, but the American Civil Liberties Union and associations that represent prosecutors and defense attorneys oppose the issue. The Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal’s editorial boards also oppose the measure.

Read an article by the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association in the Columbus Dispatch.

Issue 2

This is a proposed law to require state agencies to not pay more for prescription drugs than the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. It also requires state payment of attorney fees and expenses to specific individuals for defense of the law. A “yes” vote will approve the measure.

Who supports Issue 2: Several organizations have endorsed this issue, but the majority of supporters are individuals and public officials. The Youngstown Vindicator has endorsed Issue 2. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the primary funder.

Visit the website for Issue 2

Who Opposes Issue 2: More than 60 organizations and several major newspaper editorial boards oppose Issue 2. This issue has not passed in any state. It appeared on the ballot in California last year but was defeated. Drug companies are the primary funders.

Visit the website against Issue 2

The Ohio Secretary of State website is an excellent resource on Issues 1 and 2, including videos, ballot language and arguments for and against each issue.


What’s on Your Ballot?

In addition to statewide issues, your ballot will include judicial races, city council and township trustee races, school board races and local ballot issues.

Want to know what other races and issues are on your ballot?

Find your sample ballot

Finally, a Note about Judicial Elections

This election, voters will choose municipal court judges. According to a survey conducted in 2014 by the Bliss Institute at The University of Akron, a majority of Ohio voters say they don’t vote for judges because they don’t know enough about the candidates. This is no longer a valid excuse.

For information about judicial races, you can visit judicialvotescount.org. This site allows you to search for judicial candidates by county.

And yes, local judicial races are important: Judges that later serve on the Ohio Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court develop their judicial philosophy while serving on the trial court.

We all know the importance of judicial philosophy – remember that crazy Scott Pontzer decision that turned the insurance industry on its head?

As a side note, to give real-world examples, municipal courts deal with those pesky red light camera traffic tickets, your crazy neighbor who repeatedly violates your local zoning code and the zoning case that decides whether or not that busy strip mall will be built near your neighborhood.

While I’m not sure how many voters skip voting in municipal court elections, voter drop-off in Ohio Supreme Court races is 25 percent.

Do Your Homework

I truly believe the term “off-year” election is a misnomer. The elections taking place at the ballot box next Tuesday are extremely important.

So do your homework and research the issues and candidates on your ballot.  

And let me leave you with one last thought from FDR who said:

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves, and the only way they could do this is by not voting."

Franklin d. Roosevelt


To find general voting information, such as checking your registration, voting I.D. requirements and voting options, click here.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

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