Ohioans need to vote no on Issue 1

Should Ohioans break from 110 years of our history and make it harder for citizens to amend our constitution?
ohioans voted sticker
A voter wears an “Ohio I Voted” sticker at a polling location in Columbus, Ohio, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. After months of talk about reproductive rights, threats to democracy, climate change, immigration and crime, the US midterm elections are coming down to the way Americans feel about the overall state of the economy and, in particular, inflation. Photographer: Megan Jelinger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ohioans have voted on hundreds of constitutional amendments over the last century but haven’t been asked to vote on one in an August election since 1926. Today, Ohioans will be asked to decide on one of the most consequential elections in our lifetime with a proposed constitutional amendment better known as Issue 1. Since 1912, Ohio has used a simple majority requiring more than half of the votes to pass a constitutional amendment within the state. If codified into law, Issue 1 would raise that threshold to 60 percent of the vote.

As everyone heads to the polls, the question is: Should Ohioans break from 110 years of our history and make it harder for citizens to amend our constitution? The simple answer is that we shouldn’t. Ohioans haven’t seen a proposal as egregious since Senate Bill 5, a Republican-fueled attack on worker’s rights. Now, right-wing politicians and their special interest groups are again back to limit the rights of workers and Ohioans everywhere.

The purpose of Issue 1 is to silence the majority of Ohioans and subject us to the policy preferences of a small group of extremists who have secured the favor of a wholly gerrymandered legislature. These extremists run with the mantra of Issue 1 “Protecting Ohio’s Constitution” but who are they protecting it from?

The majority of Ohioans.

If Issue 1 passes, it could prevent many proposed constitutional amendments from becoming law. Only one other state, Florida, requires exactly 60 percent or more support to pass its constitutional amendments. Since voters passed an Issue 1-esque amendment to that effect in 2006, nine amendments (out of 53 that appeared on the ballot) have failed with between 50 and 60 percent of the vote, including one to increase school class sizes or switch to a top-two primary system. For comparison, 13 failed, with less than 50 percent of the vote. In other words, 41 percent of the Florida constitutional amendments that have failed since 2006 would have passed under a simple majority system. And in Ohio, it seems quite possible that November’s abortion-rights amendment will fall in that 50-60 percent zone.

According to polls, Ohioans support the abortion amendment by an average of 57 percent to 24 percent (with 20 percent undecided). Republicans have made little secret of why they’re rushing to change the rules. Since, in their eyes, they want to avoid the possibility of abortion rights being enshrined in the state’s constitution after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last year.

“This is 100% about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution. The left wants to jam it in there this coming November,” the Ohio secretary of state, Frank LaRose, a Republican running for the US Senate and one of the most prominent supporters of the amendment, said last month.

Beyond reproductive rights, today’s election has far-reaching implications for democracy in Ohio. Republicans hold a supermajority in the Ohio legislature after they manipulated district lines to their advantage last year, brazenly ignoring several rebukes from the state supreme court. Activists are already working to draft a constitutional amendment that would strip lawmakers of their redistricting authority entirely. But making it harder to change the constitution would allow Republicans to keep their distorted advantage.

If Issue 1 were to pass, it would give Republicans Tyranny by the minority over the majority, which is typically barred under our constitutional government but wouldn’t be under State Issue 1. Furthermore, 1 empowers these extremists with zero good intentions to steer the state toward their fascist idealogy and reproductive rights would be just the beginning. Legalizing recreational marijuana would never come to pass but slashing the rights of LGBTQ+ Ohioans and teachers carrying firearms in schools around children likely would. A centennial’s worth of progress would be rolled back instantly if Issue 1 were to pass.

That’s why Ohioans need to vote against it.

Evan Dammarell is an award-winning sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at evan@downeuclid.com. He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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