You did it! Issue 1 was defeated, and Delaware County voted No by a margin of 58% – 42%. A big thank-you to everyone who canvassed, phone banked, text banked, wrote postcards, displayed yard signs, donated money, advocated with friends and relatives, or helped in other ways.
And last but certainly not least, thanks to all of you who voted to keep citizen initiatives viable in Ohio.
Background: what was that all about?
We value our freedom and our power, including the freedom and the power to make laws that affect our lives when politicians fail us. In Ohio, we have had the freedom and power to amend the state constitution for 111 years.
This year our out-of-touch heavily-gerrymandered Republican-extremist-controlled legislature tried to take some of our freedom and power away by making it harder for citizen-led initiatives to get on the ballot, and making it harder for them to pass if they do. They pushed an amendment to the state constitution that required citizen-initiated ballot measures to get more signatures from more counties to get on the ballot, and if they get on the ballot, they would need 60% of the vote to pass. Legislature-initiated ballot measures would still pass with 50%.
Why did they do that? Largely, because they’re against reproductive freedom, and they know that abortion access is popular with Ohioans. They pushed this rule change in a desperate attempt to take away reproductive freedom now, and other freedoms in the future.
What do Bob Taft, John Kasich, Dick Celeste, and Ted Strickland have in common? For one, they are all former governors of Ohio. For another, they all opposed Issue 1. In a statement, Kasich wrote, “Ohio is stronger when we can all lend our voices and we all have an equal chance to participate in the work of our state’s democracy.” In an interview, Celeste pointed out the hypocrisy built into the special election. “If they honestly thought that 60% of the vote was what should be required for a constitutional amendment, then they should write down language into [this] amendment and say, ‘This will only become effective if 60% of Ohioans vote for it.’” Strickland called out the real purpose: “I think it’s just a shameful arrogant action, and I think it is for one purpose, and that is to deprive Ohio women to have the right to an abortion.” (see this Cleveland.com article for more)
A bipartisan group of former Ohio Attorneys General opposed the proposal. Republicans Betty Montgomery, Jim Petro, and Democrats Richard A. Cordray, Lee I. Fisher and Nancy H. Rogers sent a letter to the General Assembly that Issue 1 would “discard a commitment to majority rule that has been part of our Ohio Constitution since 1912 … Ohio voters should reject this effort to change a fundamental element of our state constitution that has been in effect for more than 100 years.” (Cleveland.com article)
What’s next? The Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Restaurant Association, the Ohio Hotel and Lodging Association and the Ohio Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business all endorsed Issue 1. Why would they do that? A group that wants to raise the minimum wage is gathering signatures for a ballot issue next year. There might be a connection … (Ideastream Public Media article)
Yet more hypocisy. Ostensibly, Issue 1 was supposed to protect the Ohio Constitution from outside interests that might spend a lot of money on advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts. But, since when is this “protection” necessary? Ohioans can make up their own minds. If an idea originates somewhere else in the country and a majority of Ohioans like it, why should a minority be allowed to block it? Did a single advocate of Issue 1 object to the massive out-of-state funding from Peter Thiel and Mitch McConnell that fueled J. D. Vance’s Senate campaign?