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Commentary: Ohio Politicians attempting to remove Voter Rights

by DemocracyIssues.com, an Ohio-based Voter Rights initiative

Ohio Statehouse 3rd Street entrance

Ohio Politicians have placed Issue 1 on a Special Election ballot for August 8, 2023 that if successful will make it almost impossible to pass a citizen-led Constitutional Amendment in the future. (https://www.democracyissues.com/ballotissuesattacked)

Issue 1 designed to Protect Power and Control in the hands of Politicians

According to a May 10, 2023 article by Jo Ingles and Karen Kasler in the Statehouse News Bureau, Issue 1’s Primary Sponsor in the Ohio House of Representatives, Brian Stewart (R-Ashville, Oh) explained in a private letter to members of his political party that the purpose of this legislation was to block future citizen-led Constitutional Amendments that included blocking an amendment planned for November 2023 that would permit a woman the right to choose an abortion in Ohio, and also to block another Constitutional Amendment being planned in 2024 that would end gerrymandered election districts in the state (that were ruled by the Ohio Supreme Court to be unconstitutional).

Constitutional Amendments in other states

In addition to Ohio, there are twenty five (25) other states and the District of Columbia that provide a process for citizens to amend their state’s constitution and/or repeal a law passed by their Legislature.

Of these states, 18 states permit citizens to directly propose a new Constitutional Amendment and have it placed before voters.

Passage requires 50% of the votes cast

Almost all of the states that have a process for citizen-led Constitutional Amendments require a simple majority, or 50% plus one vote for passage. Only Florida requires 60% of the votes cast for passage.

Signature Petition Requirements

States that have a process for citizen-led Constitutional Amendments also require a signature petition process in order for a proposed Amendment to be placed on the ballot.

And some of these states have “Distribution” guidelines that require a certain percentage of the signatures to be from different counties or election districts. Ohio law currently requires that signatures equal to 5% of the votes cast in the last governor’s race be from at least 44 of its 88 counties. This is a very difficult and costly requirement to achieve.

Issue 1 would change the law to require 5% of the votes cast in the last governor’s race to be from each of the 88 Ohio counties. This significantly increases the difficulty and cost of obtaining petition signatures beyond the already very difficult requirements.

This extremely costly and difficult requirement would insure that most citizen-led ballot initiatives would never succeed, and most would never even attempt Issue 1’s extraordinary signature petition requirements.

Issue 1 would remove Voter Rights obtained 111 years ago

Politicians have carefully structured Issue 1 that would make Ohio the most difficult state in the country for citizens to pass a Constitutional Amendment.

Many citizens that vote yes on Issue 1 will not know that they are voting to give up their current rights that were obtained 111 years ago in order to fight corruption by Ohio Politicians.

Opponents charge that Issue 1 has been structured by Politicians who placed it on the ballot in order to obtain additional Power and Control over Ohio citizens.

And citizens who oppose Issue 1have shared that in the recent past this same type of political Power and Control was illegally used to pass legislation that provided $1.4 billion to First Energy from its utility customers in exchange for bribes to Ohio Politicians through a complex criminal racketeering scheme.

Citizen-led Ballot Issues can address a Corrupt, Anti-Democratic, or Out of Touch State Legislature

The Columbus Dispatch’s Mike Curtain explained in a December 12, 2022 article that in the early 1900s bribery and scandals were rampant in the Ohio Statehouse as Politicians lined their pockets in exchange for political favors.

In 1912, an Ohio Constitutional Convention passed reforms to check the power and corruption in the Ohio Statehouse. This included a law to permit citizen-led ballot issues for Constitutional Amendments as they can be very effective at addressing a corrupt, anti-democratic, or out of touch state Legislature.

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