Election Reforms can — PROTECT Democracy . . . and the Republic
OHIO BALLOT ISSUES IN DANGER
Standing-room only crowd of Protesters against HJR1 legislation that would increase the threshold for passage of ballot issues from 50% to, instead, 60%, at Trinity Episcopal Church across the street from the Ohio Statehouse
Will a group of Ohio Politicians succeed in preventing Citizen Ballot Issues?
The Ohio Legislature has continued to put unpopular new laws and political practices in place that are likely to be opposed by multiple Citizen-led Ballot Issues. As a result, an effort is underway by citizens to put a ballot issue before Ohio voters to legalize abortions, and another effort is being explored to end Gerrymandered election districts.
In an effort to make it almost impossible to pass any future citizen-led ballot issues, Ohio Politicians placed a Constitution Amendment, Issue 1, on the August 8, 2023 ballot.
It was soundly defeated as 57% of the voters rejected this change to the Ohio Constitution and only 43% supported it. However, GOP leaders have indicated that they are considering the placement of this issue again for a future election.
Information below provides the history behind the Issue 1 ballot initiative that suffered an embarrassing defeat by voters on August 8, 2023.
OHIO POLITICIANS TAKE AIM AT CITIZEN-LED BALLOT ISSUES
Faced with multiple potential Citizen-led Ballot Issues coming before Voters during 2023 and beyond, a small number of members of the Ohio Legislature are leading an effort to Suppress Voter Rights.—In December 2022, House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR6) was put forward to increase the required percentage of Votes needed to pass a Constitutional Amendment Ballot Issue from 50% to, instead, 60%.
In the face of opposition from over 170 Ohio organizations that support Democracy, the Ohio Legislature quickly announced that it no longer had the support to move this anti-democratic bill forward, and delayed its introduction.
HJR1 DESIGNED TO PREVENT FUTURE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS BY CITIZENS
Reintroduced in January 2023 and renamed HJR1, even more barriers were added to make it virtually impossible to place most Citizen-led Constitutional Amendments on the ballot.
In addition to raising the threshold for passage to 60% of all of the votes casts, HJR1 has also significantly increased the requirement for obtaining petition signatures at the county level. Instead of obtaining petition signatures in 44 0f the 88 counties from 5% of the voters in the last governor’s race, now this large number of required petition signatures at the county level is needed in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. This is an extremely costly and difficult requirement to meet.
To even further reduce the possibility of collecting enough signatures for placement on the ballot, HJR1 no longer permits the Option to “Cure” submitted signatures that have any type of error.
To become law, HJR1 would have to be approved by Ohio voters through a Ballot issue being scheduled in a Special Election in August, however, only 50% (not 60%) of the total votes cast would be required for its passage.
Passage of both HJR1 and a similar Bill in the Senate, SJR1, have been combined and renamed Issue 1 and placed on the August 8, 2023 ballot as a Constitution Amendment requiring the approval of a majority of Ohio voters.
Anti-Democratic legislation to destroy Voter Rights- that were granted by 111 year old law
Reporting by Ohio media (shared below) has provided information that this attack to destroy Citizen-led Ballot Issues is being done to maintain Voter Suppression through Gerrymandered election districts, and to block the Will of the Majority who want abortions to return to being legal (USA Today Network Ohio/Suffolk University polls in 2022).
The current Voter Rights law permitting Citizen-led Ballot Issues has been in place in Ohio since 1912, or over 111 years. This drastic, anti-democratic attempt to damage the current law is being led by a small group of GOP Politicians– in order to gain additional Power and Control.
The Ohio Statehouse 3rd Street entrance
IN THE NEWS
Published by Akron Beacon Journal — Editorial Board
E1.) “Ohio Republicans want a taller wall for those who disagree on abortion, gerrymandering”
November 11, 2022
“Imagine 59 percent of Ohioans voting for abortion rights, an end to gerrymandering or any other issue and losing.
“That could happen as Ohio’s powerful Republican supermajority works to further consolidate its chokehold on state government and silence the public’s voice.”
“It’s one thing to play by the rules, win and wield influence. It’s another to break the rules and then use the spoils of victory to further erode democracy.”
“Majority rules is the cornerstone principle of our country, if that matters to Republicans any more.”
Published by The Columbus Dispatch
E2.) “In ‘historic abuse of power,’ Ohio lawmakers seek to steal your voice”
By Mike Curtin
December 12, 2022
Mike Curtin is a career newspaperman with 38 years at the Columbus Dispatch followed by four years in the Ohio House (2013-2016).
“Never in Ohio history has the state legislature, in lame-duck session, rushed to the next year’s spring ballot, in an odd-numbered year, a proposed constitutional amendment to fundamentally alter its citizens’ constitutional rights and voting rights.”
“In an historic abuse of power, the General Assembly appears intent on ramming a poorly researched and broadly misrepresented proposal to the May 2 primary ballot.”
” The proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution would severely weaken the 110-year-old right of citizens to seek changes in their constitution via initiative petition. If approved, it would require all future proposed amendments to obtain at least 60 percent of the vote.”
Published by Cleveland.com
E3.) Flawed effort to make it harder to amend Ohio Constitution will be back
By Michael Curtin
February 3, 2023
“It (a new Republican ballot initiative) would require all future (citizen ballot issue) proposals to amend the (Ohio) constitution to obtain 60% of the vote to win passage – the highest barrier in the nation.”
“It would (also) require citizens to collect signatures from registered voters in all 88 counties totaling at least 5 percent of each county’s vote in the most recent election for governor.”
“That requirement, doubling the existing 44-county standard, would give Ohio one of the toughest barriers in the nation for qualifying citizen-initiated amendments for the ballot.”
“This two-pronged attack was a naked attempt to undercut current organizing activity on initiatives to defend reproductive freedom and enact redistricting reforms.”
“The Stewart proposal ignores – and insults – Ohioans’ record of good judgment. It would debilitate Ohioans’ 111-year-old right to check Statehouse politicians. It would empower and insulate special interests.”
Published on News 5 Cleveland ABC
E4.) “Amid Statehouse protest, Ohio GOP says bill to make it harder to amend constitution lacks votes to pass“
By: Morgan Trau
December 13, 2022
“A resolution to require a 60% supermajority vote in order for constitutional amendments to succeed doesn’t have 60% of the vote to even get out of the Ohio House.”
“In a press conference at the Statehouse Tuesday, hundreds of progressive, conservative and nonpartisan Ohioans did a mock vote, showing their opposition.”
“Some GOP lawmakers, like state Rep. Shane Wilkin, said that outside groups are passing amendments through Ohio’s citizen-led ballot initiative process. Money pays the way for special interest groups, he said.”
“There is no evidence that special interest groups have passed amendments through Ohio’s citizen-led ballot initiative process in recent years, and reproductive rights groups believe this is really a targeted way to make it harder for voters to pass a measure to protect and ensure abortion. “
Published by The Associated Press
E5.) “Groups to Defend Citizens’ Power to Amend Ohio Constitution”
November 29, 2022
“Foes of a proposal to make it harder for citizens to amend Ohio’s constitution are vowing to unleash the same activist coalition against it that repealed an anti-union law last decade”
“’The secretary’s proposal to the Legislature to amend the Constitution regarding constitutional amendments is more than short-sighted,” vice president Rob Walgate said in a statement. “Requiring a 60% voter supermajority to pass a ballot measure breaks the intention and balance of the Ohio Constitution, which has been working effectively since the early 1900′s. There is no citizen outcry for such a measure. This is strictly inside-baseball among the political elites in Columbus.'”
Published by Thomas Suddes who writes from Ohio University
E6.) “Beware. Ohio lawmakers are in session and unafraid of payback from voters”
By Thomas Suddes
Thomas Suddes is a former legislative reporter with The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and writes from Ohio University.
December 13, 2022
“Making the Ohio Constitution harder to amend would also make it harder to stop the gerrymandering of General Assembly districts and congressional districts by GOP leaders.”
(Also the), “GOP wants to crush your voting power to make it harder to restore abortion rights”