Ohio could set a record this fall for citizen-driven ballot initiatives on everything from voting rights and abortion to medical marijuana — and even dog auctions, according to the Ohio attorney general’s office.
Petition language has been approved for seven issues on this November’s ballot and another one in 2013, the Dayton Daily News
reported Monday. But in several cases, supporters are still struggling to obtain the 385,253 petition signatures needed to put their issues before voters.
Ohio State University political science professor Paul Beck said the upsurge in citizen initiatives will likely continue because they often take less time to reach a vote than bills that get tangled up in the legislative process.
That’s one reason, he said, ballot initiatives are often more attractive to special-interest groups.
Anne Heneker, a spokesperson for an organized effort aimed at changing the state’s redistricting procedure, suggested a ballot initiative on that issue was the “only alternative when the legislature is really not getting to the needs of middle Ohio.”
But pursuing a ballot initiative rather than relying on the legislature to address the issue can be costly. Secretary of State Jon Husted said it can cost an average of $1.5 million, including ads, legal fees, and petition circulators to successfully place a measure before the voters.
“It’s no longer the sympathetic way that citizens go out and have their voice heard,” Husted told the Daily News. “It’s a professional political process now that people have used to, at best, advance issues they care about and, at worst, turn into another way for consultants and political operatives to make money.”
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