By MARC KOVAC
COLUMBUS — The Ohio Ballot Board has signed off on two more proposed constitutional amendments, giving additional groups the go-ahead to begin collecting signatures to qualify for the general election.
One would reverse the state’s ban on gay marriage, while the other would create a new board to draw Ohio’s congressional and legislative districts, with hopes of limiting the influence of whichever political party is in power.
Attorney General Mike DeWine earlier certified the groups’ petition language, and the ballot board on Thursday agreed that both would be considered single constitutional amendments — an important decision for supporters, who can present voters with single petitions and issues rather than multiples.
The sign-offs are an early step in the process, however. Supporters now have to gather more than 380,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot, a process that likely will not be completed in time for this year’s general election.
The redistricting amendment drew most of the discussion during Thursday’s meeting.
The issue would create a new state board, likely made up of equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and nonpartisan voters, to spearhead Ohio apportionment and redistricting processes.
“Essentially, it is going to take the power to draw the districts away from the politicians and give it to citizens,” said Ann Henkener, a League of Women Voters board member and one of the members of the group backing the issue. “We’ve learned over the last number of times that this has been done by either party that the politicians act like politicians when they’re doing the redistricting. They do what’s in their best interest, not what’s in the voters’ best interest, and that’s what we’re trying to change.”
If OK’d by voters, the new panel would form immediately and could revisit maps drawn by Republicans last year that critics say lean too heavily in favor of GOP candidates.
During Thursday’s Ballot Board meeting, Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and Sen. Keith Faber, a Republican from Celina, asked multiple questions about the political makeup of the group behind the effort and posited whether it should be split into separate amendments — one focused on state legislative
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