Analysis: There’s a lot at stake on Ohio’s November ballot. Here’s what to start researching now

There truly is no way of exaggerating how profoundly important the 2024 election is.

From a presidential contest that is literally a choice between continuing democracy and agreeing to autocracy, to state elections in Ohio that could result in breaking three decades of one-party rule, it matters.

All of it.

If you are an Ohio resident and can’t find a good reason to vote in this fall’s election, you’re not really trying.

Here’s a taste of what Ohio voters face in the Nov. 5 election:

Ohio is Ground zero for U.S. Senate control

Democrats have held a slim two-vote majority in the U.S. Senate for the past two years, and that majority could flip over to the Republicans this fall.

Ohio voters will have a great deal to say about that.

On the ballot is Ohio’s Democratic incumbent Senator Sherrod Brown, who is one of only two Democrats running for re-election in a state won by Donald Trump in 2020 — the other being Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

Brown has been a survivor in Ohio politics since he first won election to the Senate in 2006, defeating Republican incumbent Mike DeWine, but this will be the most difficult race of his career.

He may, though, have caught something of a break last month when Ohio’s GOP primary voters chose former luxury car dealer Bernie Moreno, the Trump-endorsed candidate out of a three-person field, to face him in November.

ANALYSIS: Bernie Moreno’s win is good news for Trump and Ohio Democrats

Moreno carries baggage into the race — his anti-abortion rights views, his sometimes-sketchy business dealings, and some dubious claims about his family escaping socialism in Colombia when he was a child.

It will be a hard fight — and probably the most expensive Senate race in the country — but Democrats are counting on Trump’s rather poor record of choosing Senate candidates.

J.D. Vance aside, if Trump were really good at it, Dr. Oz and Herschel Walker would be answering to the title Senator now.

Redistricting: The biggest thing not yet on the ballot

Voter rights advocates scrutinize the Congressional district map proposed by Republican lawmakers in 2021.

Chances are, if you have been outside walking about on busy sidewalks, you have been approached by people asking you to sign a petition for Citizens Not Politicians, backers of a proposed amendment to Ohio’s constitution.

It is an amendment that would fundamentally change the way Ohio draws its legislative district lines to create more competitive districts and, possibly, break the three-decades-long Republican vise grip on the Ohio General Assembly.

The present rules, adopted overwhelmingly by Ohio voters in 2015 and 2018, have been a miserable failure — not because the rules are bad, but because the Republican majority on the Ohio Redistricting Commission wouldn’t follow them.

In 2021 and 2022, an Ohio Supreme Court majority ruled seven times that the Republican-drawn maps were unconstitutional.

In response, the Republican majority ran out the clock and got what they wanted — districts that will preserve their veto-proof supermajority in the legislature.

What the Citizens Not Politicians amendment would do is this:

It would create a 15-member Ohio Citizens Redistricting Commission made up of five Republicans, five Democrats and five independents. Current and former politicians, political party officials and lobbyists are prohibited from serving on the commission.

It would make it unconstitutional to draw maps that favor any political party or individual politician, and it requires the commission to operate under an open and independent process.

If the issue makes the November ballot, the Ohio Republican Party and its allies will fight this change with everything they have. It is a direct threat to the source of their power in the Ohio Statehouse.

Backers of the amendment have until the end of June to collect the valid signatures of about 413,000 Ohioans from 44 of the state’s 88 counties.

With armies of volunteers pounding the pavement from one end of the state to the other, don’t bet against them.

You will likely find this issue on your general election ballot.

Read more here.