COLUMBUS — Ohio voters will weigh in this fall on a ballot issue that would etch a victims’ bill of rights into the state constitution.
Secretary of State Jon Husted on Monday certified the so-called Marsy’s Law for the Nov. 7 ballot.
The organization behind the proposed amendment, with a wealthy California tech entrepreneur bankrolling the effort, had filed nearly 564,000 raw signatures near the end of June. In the end 371,749 of those survived scrutiny from county boards of elections and were deemed valid registered voters’ signatures. They needed just under 306,000 to qualify.
The bipartisan Ohio Ballot Board will meet next to write ballot language.
"Today, we move closer to making equal rights for crime victims a reality in Ohio," said Henry T. Nicholas, a Cincinnati native and founder of Broadcom Corp. “We are excited that Ohioans will be able to vote on placing basic, enforceable rights for victims of crime into the state constitution."
The proposed amendment is named for Mr. Nicholas’ sister, Marsalee Ann Nicholas, who was a 21-year-old California college student when she was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. The inspiration for this and similar successful efforts in California, Illinois, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota came when Mr. Nicholas and their mother walked into a grocery store after visiting Marsy’s grave.
They ran into the boyfriend who’d been released on bail without notice to the family. He was later convicted of second-degree murder.
Among other things, the amendment would allow victims to be involved at every step of the judicial process and weigh in on proposed plea deals, sentencing, and parole proceedings. They would be notified if an offender is released or escapes, could seek financial restitution, and have a right for proceedings to occur without unreasonable delay.
So far, the effort appears to have no organized opposition.
It marks the second ballot issue to qualify for November. The first, a proposed citizen-initiated statute, would bar the state and its health programs from paying more for prescription drugs than what is negotiated by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
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