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In win for pro-abortion forces, Ohio rejects measure making it harder to amend state constitution

If passed, the threshold would go from a simple majority to 60% support required for a constitutional amendment to pass

Published: August 8, 2023 11:22am

Updated: August 9, 2023 12:09am

Ohioans went to polls on Tuesday rejected a measure to make it harder for the state to amend its constitution.

The ballot initiative known as "Issue 1" generated national interest, drawing large donations from out of state and a whopping 600,000 in early voters. Had it passed, the state would have raised the threshold required to pass a constitutional amendment from a simple majority of ballots to a supermajority of 60%. 

The Associated Press called the contest in favor on the opposition, with 59.9% of voters rejecting the proposal as of press time.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who now is running for U.S. Senate in 2024, had championed the ballot initiative, telling Just the News changing the state's founding document should require a more serious vote while acknowledging outside money was pouring in from Democrat donors eager to expand abortion rights in the state.

"Ohioans get to make their voices heard in this crucial election to say our Constitution is not for sale to out of state special interests and Ohioans own the Ohio constitution," he told the Just the News, No Noise television show Monday night.

Ballot measures like Issue 1 have mostly failed in recent years, but recent polling from late July on this measure showed support to be nearly even split.

The only similar effort which has succeeded since 2017 was Proposition 132 in Arizona last year. Proposition 132 raised the threshold to pass ballot measures to 60 percent, but only measures that raise taxes. It also barely passed, getting just 51 percent of the vote, FiveThirtyEight reports.

A summary of Issue 1's argument, which was prepared by two Republican lawmakers, says that a "yes" vote "protects our Constitution from deep-pocketed, out-of-state interests. By passing Issue 1, the People will ensure constitutional changes are widely accepted and declare that Ohio's Constitution is not for sale."

"Currently, special interests target Ohio, seeking to inject their own personal views and objectives into our state's most sacred document. Why? Because Ohio is one of the few states that allow these interests to directly enshrine their social preferences and corporate motives into the Constitution at the same threshold as everyday laws," they document says. "Common sense tells us that this should not be the case."

A few Democrats laid out their argument against Issue 1 in the same document, saying that the amendment "would destroy citizen-driven ballot initiatives as we know them, upending our right to make decisions that directly impact our lives. It takes away our freedom by undermining the sacred principle of 'one person, one vote' and destroys majority rule in Ohio."

"Here we are, voting in August on just one question: should Ohio permanently abolish the basic constitutional right of majority rule? Special interests and corrupt politicians say yes. They don't like voters making decisions, so they're trying to rewrite the rules to get what they want: even more power."

Ballot measures in off-years tend to have low turnout but this one is expected to draw a crowd. So far, 600,000 people have voted early.

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