COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio voters were deciding ballot issues on Tuesday that would place limits on drug prices and expand victims’ rights in criminal proceedings, along with several mayoral races.
No problems were reported Tuesday morning as the polls opened, said Sam Rossi, a spokesman for the secretary of state. Election directors in parts of northeastern Ohio had relocated some polling sites after a severe storm over the weekend caused power outages across the region.
Fewer absentee ballots were requested ahead of Tuesday’s election than for an equivalent election cycle two years ago, but more of those ballots have been cast, Secretary of State Jon Husted said. Almost 450,000 Ohioans had requested absentee ballots as of Monday, and over 385,000 of them had been cast.
Absentee ballots that hadn’t been postmarked by Monday’s deadline still could be hand-delivered to election boards Tuesday before poll close at 7:30 p.m.
While low voter turnout is typical in off-year elections, early voting figures in some counties indicate voter interest is higher than normal, particularly in city elections with incumbents facing spirited challenges. Democrats have continued to do well in large urban areas, while Republicans have dominated recent statewide votes, including Donald Trump last year.
With TV ad blitzes, the statewide issues also have drawn interest.
Marsy’s Law for Ohio, or Issue 1, aims to expand crime victims’ rights to more closely match those of the accused. The proposed constitutional amendment assures that victims and their families receive notice of court proceedings, have input on plea deals and other rights.
Similar measures have seen pushback in some states where they’ve passed. Opponents cite unintended consequences, such as law enforcers halting the release of vehicle crash reports for fear it would be unconstitutional.
Reported spending on Issue 2, the Ohio Drug Price Relief Act, already has topped $65 million, making it the most expensive ballot campaign in Ohio history.
The proposal seeks to curb prescription drug prices paid by the state for prisoners, injured workers and poor people.
An opposition campaign funded by the pharmaceutical industry says it would reduce access to medicines and raise prices for veterans and others.
Many cities, townships and villages have local elections Tuesday, and there are hundreds of communities with school levies and other local measures.
In Cleveland, Frank Jackson is seeking a record fourth four-year term as mayor, opposed by fellow Democrat and longtime City Councilman Zack Reed. Jackson says he has steered the city through tough times, including the recession and housing crisis. Reed pledges to increase public safety, planning to hire hundreds more police officers.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley is seeking a second term against City Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, who led primary vote-getters. Both are Democrats. He claims "a proven track record of progress" for the city, while she said she has a strong vision that is more inclusive.
In Toledo, Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, a former city council president, is seeking her first full term after winning a special election two years ago. She’s up against Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz, who was endorsed by The Blade newspaper.
Sewell reported from Cincinnati.