State Issue 5 - Nonpartisan Election Administration

State Issue 5, on the ballot for November 8th , seeks to create a "board of elections supervisors to serve as the state's chief elections authority." See ballot language Issue 5.

The aim of this board of elections supervisors would be to replace the secretary of state in overseeing elections. The board would be made up of nine members: four to be appointed by the governor, four by the General Assembly (of a political affiliation different than that of the governor) and one by unanimous election of the Ohio Supreme Court. Members of the board could not hold elected or appointed office, be a candidate for such an office, hold a position with a political party or be a registered lobbyist. Members would serve nine year terms.

The board would be responsible for prescribing uniform procedures to be followed by county boards of elections in conducting elections, supervising the administration of the conduct of elections by county boards, appointing and removing the members of these county boards as appropriate, approving and certifying all equipment and systems used for voting and counting votes, making recommendations for changes in election laws, investigating irregularities and misconduct and other tasks associated with overseeing the election process in Ohio. All business of the board would be conducted in meetings open to the public.

Opponents of the issue argue that creation of the board would effectively end local control by county boards of elections. On top of this, the idea of the board smacks of a cynical mistrust of Ohio voters. Instead of having elections overseen by an officer beholden to regular Ohioans, a diffuse body of nine appointed people would make decisions with impunity. Finally, this board would have to be funded, staffed and equipped - not a small concern given the state of Ohio 's budget.

Those who support Issue 5 say that the most important thing it does is take away the reality or appearance of partisanship in election decisions made by the secretary of state. The nine member board, comprised of a professional group of people who can represent all Ohioans with their mix of political, racial, economic and gender makeup, would better serve the state with their public deliberations and open decision-making process. Any money concerns can be ameliorated by simply taking money now used for overseeing elections and transferring it to the board.