Ohio voters to decide on state election commission

Most of the attention that is being paid to nonpartisan election reform is focused on nonpartisan redistricting commissions, especially the Proposition 77 effort in California (see our earlier post on this), and on Ohio’s State Issue 4 (which would establish a five member appointed redistricting commission). But, Ohio voters are also likely to be called upon to decide State Issue 5, which would remove from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office the authority to administer elections, instead developing a nine member election board.

The wording of State Issue 5 is:

To create a newly appointed board to administer elections, this amendment would:

Eliminate responsibility of the elected Ohio Secretary of State to oversee elections.

Create an appointed board of nine members to administer statewide elections and oversee the existing county boards of elections.

Provide that the members of the board are appointed as follows: four by the governor, four by the members of the general assembly affiliated with the political party that is not the same as that of the governor, and one by a unanimous vote of the chief justice and justices of the Ohio Supreme Court. The member appointed by the Supreme Court may not be affiliated with a political party. The governor and members of the general assembly must appoint equal numbers of men and women and take into consideration the geographic regions and racial diversity of the state. Members would serve staggered nine-year terms. Members may not hold any elective or other appointive public office, be a candidate for public office, hold a position with a political party, or be a registered lobbyist, and would be prohibited from making or soliciting political contributions and being involved in a candidate or ballot issue campaign.

Require the state board of elections supervisors to hire an administrative director, to prescribe uniform procedures to be followed by the county boards of elections, to appoint and remove members of the county boards of elections in accordance with statutory provisions, to certify the petitions of candidates for statewide offices and petitions for statewide ballot issues, to certify all equipment and systems used for voting and counting of votes, to approve ballot language for all statewide issues, and to maintain a statewide voter registration file.

Require the General Assembly to set a reasonable level of compensation for the members of the state board of elections supervisors and to appropriate sufficient funds for the board to be able to fully perform it duties and to compensate such staff and to acquire such equipment, supplies and office space as necessary for such performance.

An interesting initiative effort to follow, and an even more interesting process to watch if Ohio voters pass this initiative this fall.