Lengthy Issue 2 wording worries supporters

Bentley Davis, state chair of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said Wednesday she’s afraid voters won’t make it down the ballot to local levies such as Franklin County’s Issue 56, which is one of 16 statewide that would continue or expand services for senior citizens.

“When people get confused, the gut instinct is to say ‘no’,” Davis said during a news conference called by Voters First, the group backing State Issue 2.

Voters First spokeswoman Sandy Theis said her office has received dozens of phone calls from citizens complaining about the wording and length of Issue 2 and that they couldn’t find local issues. Theis said she also heard from local public safety units concerned their levy proposals were being lost after the Issue 2 language.

The Ohio Ballot Board writes ballot language for constitutional amendments like Issue 2. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in September the original Issue 2 language contained “material omissions and factual inaccuracies.” The board approved, on party lines, a much longer summary of the issue, taken directly from the proposed constitutional amendment.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the goal of (Secretary of State) Jon Husted’s ballot board, in approving this overly lengthy, cumbersome language, was to confuse people and by doing so get them to vote ‘no’ or not vote at all,” said Dan Tokaji of Voters First.

Local issues appear after candidates for elected office and state issues. Ohio ballots contain 1,794 issues this year, including 194 school levies and 371 levies for police, fire and first responders.

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