On election day on Tuesday, there will be two constitutional amendments on Ohio’s ballot that voters will have to decide on. This business of voting on changes to the state constitution is inherently problematic because a constitution should be changed only after careful deliberation. Off-off-year elections, like this one, tend to produce very low turnout. Highest turnouts tend to be when a presidential election is on with around 70%, next highest is on other even years when Congressional elections are on where you see 40-50%, and odd-years are the worst, with rates dipping down to as low at 26% in 2013. So you can have a small fraction of the voting public deciding the fate of major issues that affect everyone.
So in general, I don’t like the idea. On the other hand, this is sometimes the only way that the public can get some issues passed despite the opposition of our totally reactionary state legislature.
This time we have to vote on Issue 1 and Issue 2 and the links take you to the Ballotpedia page that provides useful information on each, such as the actual text of the issue, plain language explanations of what the implications are, arguments for and against, lists of supporters and opponents, and the money being raised and spent for and against.
Issue 1 is supposedly designed to give the families of crime victims more opportunities to intervene in the process.
The measure is a type of Marsy’s Law. Issue 1 would provide crime victims with specific constitutional rights, including the right to be treated with fairness and respect for the victim’s safety, dignity, and privacy; to be notified about and present at proceedings; to be heard at proceedings involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, or parole of the accused; to a prompt conclusion of the case; to reasonable protection from the accused; to be notified about release or escape of the accused; to refuse an interview or disposition at the request of the accused; and to receive restitution from the individual who committed the criminal offense.
I will vote ‘No’ on Issue 1. It is not that I am unsympathetic to the victims and their families but the point of crimes being prosecuted by the state and not the victim is to not allow personal passions to intrude on the process. Having victims get more involved will tend to complicate things. The ACLU is one group that is opposed to this.
It is interesting that the side in favor of Issue 1 has raised and spent nearly $9 million while opponents have spent zero. Almost all that money has come from a single wealthy individual Henry Nicholas whose sister was the victim of a crime and now has undertaken as his mission to pass laws like this in every state in the country.
Issue 2 is meant to circumvent the efforts of Big Pharma and the medical industry that keep drug prices high, by enabling state agencies to bargain for lower prices.
Issue 2 would require the state and state agencies, including the Ohio Department of Medicaid, to pay the same or lower prices for prescriptions drugs as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)—a department that negotiates drug prices with companies and typically pays 24 percent less than other agencies for prescription drugs. Specifically, it would forbid state agencies to enter into any purchasing agreement with drug manufacturers unless the net cost of the drug is the same or less than that paid by the VA.
I will vote ‘Yes’ on this. The pharmaceutical lobby has spent a huge amount, around $50 million almost entirely coming from Big Pharma, in trying to persuade people to vote no, more than three times that spent by those in favor. Almost all the money in favor comes from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Bernie Sanders and other local progressives are urging a vote in favor.