About a year ago, I voted in my very first election. Voting is an issue about which I feel passionate, but unfortunately only 52 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in the 2008 elections, an increase of only 3 percent from the presidential election prior to that (2004). The voter turnout for midterm elections was even more pathetic. In 2006, 22 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted, and the 2010 elections only saw a measly 21.3 percent make it to the polls. However, on Nov. 8, Ohioans have the opportunity to impact the trend of this data by voting in the general elections.
This year the ballot will have three state issues on it, and as important as I think voting is, even more dire, in my opinion, is being an informed voter. Researching the issues is always something that I find helpful prior to filling out a ballot. And when in doubt, use Google.
State Issue 1 concerns a joint resolution to repeal and amend parts of the Ohio constitution so that the age at which someone may be appointed to our judicial branch increases from 70 to 75 years old. The second part of this issue, if passed, would limit the authority of the General Assembly, preventing them from establishing small claims (people’s) court, and reappointing a Supreme Court commission.
I personally feel that this issue has been a long time coming. Ohio has neglected to review the age of 70 as a maximum age since 1968 and in that time, there have been enough medical advances to extend the quality of life of appointees. To count someone out just because of their age is ageism, and I cannot see this any other way, especially considering the vigilance of the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. This office ensures, amongst other things, that all complaints concerning the mental health of judges or attorneys are investigated to the fullest extent and this is the part of the issue that I think the other side is missing.
I challenge the idea that this increase in age will overburden our benches and courtrooms. This stance assumes that those who have reached 75 have their best contributions behind them and this is not necessarily the case. Another concern voters may have is that the cost to retain appointees will be higher. To the contrary, it is not. There is no pay increase for those who have served longer. And as far as the second part of this issue, it seems to me that no one is really talking about it, but personally, I have no problem with any proposal that limits the power of state government.
Those who do not want this issue to pass may argue that Ohio allows retired judges to remain on the bench until the age of 80; however, this ignores that judges must be assigned to remain on the bench. I would like to think that this assignment would not occur if the judge were unpopular amongst Ohioans.
With the passing of this issue, the highest possible age of a judge could be 81 (assuming that the judge were elected at 75). A judicial term is six years, and Ohio already has in place 80 as a maximum age to retain a judge. All this really means is that an appointee could potentially stay in the system just 12 months longer than retirees assigned to serve, which is really nothing groundbreaking.