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‘Marsy's Law' Headed For November Ballot After Backers Clear Signature Hurdle

Ohio voters this fall will have the opportunity to strengthen protections for crime victims and their families.

"Marsy's Law for Ohio" on Monday was certified for the November general election ballot after supporters collected 371,749 valid signatures from 54 counties. A total of 305,591 signatures from at least 44 counties were required to qualify for the ballot.

"Today, we move closer to making equal rights for crime victims a reality in Ohio," Henry T. Nicholas, founder of Marsy's Law for All, said in a statement. "We are excited that Ohioans will be able to vote on placing basic, enforceable rights for victims of crime into the state constitution."

Otherwise known as the "Ohio Crime Victims Bill of Rights," the proposed constitutional amendment would give crime victims and their families the right to get notification of all legal proceedings and be heard at every step of the process. Victims would also have the right to give input on plea deals and receive restitution for the financial impacts of a crime.

Similar proposals have been approved in California, Illinois, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Supporters of the measure last month submitted 563,556 signatures to the secretary of state's office in an effort to place it on the ballot.

The measure is backed financially by Mr. Nicholas, who has amassed a fortune of more than $1 billion as the CEO of Broadcom Corporation. The amendment is named after his sister, Marsy Nicholas, who was stalked and killed in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. Following a visit to her grave, her mother and Mr. Nicholas saw her accused murderer at a grocery store after he had been released on bail without their knowledge.

The proposal has received the backing of dozens of elected officials, one of the most prominent being Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien.

Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a victim rights constitutional amendment 23 years ago. However, supporters of "Marsy's Law" said that change has proven to be largely toothless and unevenly enforced throughout the state. (See Gongwer Ohio Report, January 24, 2017)

The proposal received certification from Attorney General Mike DeWine's office in February that the summary language was a fair representation of the measure. Later that month the Ballot Board determined that it was a single ballot measure. Language that voters will consider still needs to be approved by the Ballot Board.

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