Ohio's General Election Day is quickly approaching on Tuesday, Nov. 6, and every vote counts.
Unfortunately, according to the Ohio Secretary of State, voter turnout in the last midterm election was only 41 percent, yet 71 percent of registered voters turned out for the last presidential election.
Regardless of your political views, this midterm election matters!
The Ohio Supreme Court: Baldwin & DeGenaro
First of all, unless you have been living under a rock, you know that there are some important statewide elections on the ballot for Ohioans to consider.
For IAs, this year, the election takes on increased importance because Ohio voters will be selecting two Ohio Supreme Court justices.
OIA has vetted the candidates for these seats. We support Judge Craig Baldwin and Justice Mary DeGenaro and have contributed the maximum amount of funds allowable by law from Ohio Insurance Agents Political Action Committee (OIA PAC) to their campaigns.
In recent years, the Ohio Supreme Court has been relatively balanced in its decision-making, however the Court is no stranger to judicial activism.
Not so long ago, the court was dominated by a pro-plaintiff majority with a penchant for creating new public policy with its decisions rather than interpreting existing law. While not the only one, there is perhaps no better example of the Court’s activism than the infamous 1999 decision in the Scott-Pontzer case.
It’s very important to support Judge Baldwin and Justice DeGenaro because just one lost seat could de-stabilize the judicial environment in Ohio.
Other Statewide Races
In addition to the races for the Court, all statewide offices are on the ballot including that of governor. This too is a critical race for IAs, as the next governor will choose the next director of the Ohio Department of Insurance.
The statewide races also matter for another reason that is often overlooked.
While Ohio has recently passed redistricting reform, the governor, secretary of state and auditor will still sit on the redistricting commission that draws the Statehouse districts and also may engage in the Congressional mapping if needed.
What does this mean? The candidates who win these races will play key roles in drawing maps in 2021 that will impact Ohio elections for a decade.
The scoop on statewide Issue 1
Issue 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to reduce penalties for crimes relating to obtaining, possessing and using illegal drugs.
Backers of the issue say the goal is to get more people into drug treatment and to have fewer individuals with the burden of a felony record hanging over them. A “yes” vote will approve the measure.
The proposed amendment would:
Require sentence reductions of incarcerated individuals, except individuals incarcerated for murder, rape, or child molestation, by up to 25% if the individual participates in rehabilitative, work, or educational programming.
Mandate that criminal offenses of obtaining, possessing, or using any drug such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and other controlled substances cannot be classified as a felony, but only a misdemeanor.
Prohibit jail time as a sentence for obtaining, possessing, or using such drugs until an individual’s third offense within 24 months.
Allow an individual convicted of obtaining, possessing, or using any such drug prior to the effective date of the amendment to ask a court to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor, regardless of whether the individual has completed the sentence.
Require any available funding, based on projected savings, to be applied to state-administered rehabilitation programs and crime victim funds.
Require a graduated series of responses, such as community service, drug treatment, or jail time, for minor, non-criminal probation violations.
Food for thought: In addition to the content of the ballot issue and the policy behind it, here are a few questions you should ask yourself before casting your vote:
Does Issue 1 belong in the Ohio Constitution?
Should this issue be decided by ballot or is it 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.)
Have you reviewed the fiscal analysis for Issue 1 prepared by the Office of Budget and Management to assess the state budgetary impact of this issue?
With this in mind, you can learn more about this statewide issue below.
Who supports Issue 1: This initiative is supported by groups such as the ACLU, Ohio Education Association, Progress Ohio, Richard Cordray, the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus and Newt Gingrich. Funders of this issue include George Soros and Mark Zuckerberg.
Who opposes Issue 1: Many business groups, newspapers, legal groups such as the Ohio Bar Association and prosecuting attorneys, judicial groups such as the Ohio Judicial Conference and several members of the Ohio Supreme Court, the FOP and Mike DeWine.
The Ohio Secretary of State website is an excellent resource on Issue 1, including ballot language and arguments for and against the issue.
116 Ohio House and Senate seats up for election
The entire Ohio House of Representatives and half of the Ohio Senate are up for election on Nov. 6. That's 116 seats!
Presumably, this means control of the Ohio General Assembly is at stake. However, with the Republicans’ sizable majority and financial advantage, things will likely remain the same.
Republicans currently have supermajorities in the Ohio House of Representatives with a 66-33 margin and the Ohio Senate by 24-9. The upcoming election is going to be interesting to say the least, as polls in the gubernatorial race have tightened significantly and the impact that this will have on down ballot races is unknown.
As a result, many state legislative races here in Ohio remain "in play" and will so until Election Day. This will truly be an election that depends on turnout and which side has the most enthusiasm and the ability to mobilize their supporters to the polls.
At this point, many political analysts are predicting that the GOP in the Ohio House may lose a handful of seats, while maintaining their strong majority, and that the partisan breakdown in the Senate is, at a minimum, likely to remain constant, with the GOP solidly in control heading into next year.
OIA does not make endorsements in these races, but OIA PAC has contributed to several incumbents and candidates for the legislature. Check the list of OIA PAC contributions for the 2018 election cycle. Please contact Carolyn Mangas for insight on your local legislative race
?What's on your ballot?
In addition to statewide Issue 1, your ballot may include races for U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, statewide offices, the Ohio House of Representatives, Ohio Senate, judicial races, and local races and issues.
Want to know what other races and issues are on your ballot?
Don't miss out: Voting information you need to know
Absentee and early, in-person voting are underway. Here is key information that will help you cast your ballot.
If you are registered to vote, you should have already received an absentee application from the Secretary of State's office in the mail. You can also complete and print the application.
Once you've completed your absentee ballot application, return it to your local county board of elections, and an absentee ballot will be sent to your house. Applications to request an absentee ballot must be received by your county board of elections by noon on Nov. 3.
After you receive the absentee ballot in the mail, you can complete it and either return it by mail (must be postmarked by Nov. 5) or drop it off at your county board of elections prior to the close of the polls on Election Day.
Early, in-person voting
You can vote early through Nov. 5 at designated times. The Secretary of State has posted a calendar showing the dates and times that you can vote, and you can check with your county board of elections to determine the precise location.
Do your homework
The elections taking place at the ballot box next Tuesday are extremely important.
Yet in Ohio’s last midterm election, only 41 percent of registered voters participated.
Join me in turning that statistic around into one that demonstrates our society cares and wants to make a difference.
It’s up to each one of us to turn the tide.
Do your homework, research the issues and candidates – and get out and vote!
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!