COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohioans overwhelmingly voted to approve two state constitutional amendments, changing the way judges set bail and modifying voter eligibility requirements, the AP projected Tuesday night.
Issue 1: Bail reform and public safety
Ohioans overwhelmingly voted to change the way judges set bail.
Issue 1 requires Ohio judges to consider public safety when setting bail for people facing criminal charges.
The constitutional amendment also eliminates the Ohio Supreme Court’s authority to establish bail-setting procedures, instead granting individual judges authority to determine bail amounts and conditions.
Under current procedures, judges cannot take public safety into account when determining cash bail – instead focusing on the accused person’s risk of non-appearance in court. Public safety factors included in Issue 1 are the seriousness of the offense and the accused person’s criminal record.
Supporters of the proposed amendment argue that public safety should be a primary factor in setting bail because it prevents “dangerous and violent criminals” from returning to the community.
Opponents believe Issue 1 unfairly conflates safety with an accused offender’s ability to pay – which not only benefits wealthier offenders, but harms nonviolent offenders who cannot afford cash bail.
Issue 2: Voter eligibility
A constitutional amendment blocking local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote will become law in Ohio.
Issue 2 blocks local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote in municipal elections.
The amendment specifies that to be eligible to vote in state and local elections, a person must be a U.S. citizen, older than 18, and registered to vote where they are legal residents for at least 30 days. If a person is ineligible to vote in state elections, the amendment prevents local governments from allowing that person to participate in local elections as well.
Supporters of Issue 2 argued the amendment is necessary to close an existing loophole in the Ohio Constitution that allows municipalities to give noncitizens the right to vote in non-federal elections. They also argue the amendment would preserve the value of U.S. citizenship.
In 2020, Yellow Springs in Greene County adopted a charter amendment to allow its nearly 30 noncitizens to vote in the village’s elections. It is the only known Ohio municipality to adopt such an amendment, but Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose kiboshed the ordinance, ordering the county election board to reject noncitizen voter registrations.
Opponents called Issue 2 unnecessary and a threat to 17-year-olds’ right to vote in primary elections.
As currently written, the Ohio Constitution says “every citizen of the United States, of the age of eighteen years” and meets the other qualifications has a right to vote. Issue 2 modifies that language to say “Only a citizen of the United States, who is at least 18” and meets the other qualifications is eligible to vote.
Opponents also argued the amendment’s language establishes a black-out period on voter registration 30 days before elections and is “cloaked in fear and false patriotism.”