Know before you vote on Issue 1


By Ryan Berry

GREENVILLE — Vote yes or vote no? That’s the question voters are going to decide on Tuesday, Aug. 8. Some voters have already made their choice and voted early. Ohio Issue 1 has been a hot topic for a couple of months and both sides of the issue are clamoring for your vote. Most voters are familiar with voting in May (or March in a presidential election year) and November. However, the state has set aside August as a time for special elections. Generally, special elections are targeted for municipalities or school districts seeking levies. Very seldom does a special election affect the entire state.

What is Issue 1?

Issue 1 is a Constitutional Amendment that supporters are hoping to pass in order to change the threshold for approving Constitutional Amendments in Ohio. Supporters are looking for 50 percent plus one vote in order to change the Constitution. The irony is that if voters approve Issue 1, future Constitutional Amendments will require 60 percent approval from voters in order to change Ohio’s Constitution.

Achieving the 60 percent threshold is not unheard of in Ohio. Some of the most recently approved Constitutional Amendments have passed with more than 60 percent. In 2018, an amendment that ensures redistricting is fair to all communities and political parties passed with nearly 75 percent support. In 2022, amendments that addressed voter qualifications and bail changes each passed with over 77 percent supporting the amendments.

Out of the 48 amendments that have been on the ballot since 1990, only six of those that were approved did not reach the 60 percent threshold. Fifteen of the 48 proposed amendments failed.

A couple of the amendments that were approved by less than 60 percent were an amendment that restricts ballot measures from monopolies, which won with 51 percent, and casinos in Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, which passed with nearly 53 percent of the vote.

Raising the threshold to pass a Constitutional Amendment is not the only change with this amendment. In Ohio, there are three ways for a Constitutional Amendment to be placed on the ballot. The first of which is a Constitutional Convention. The last Constitutional Convention held in Ohio was in 1912. The other two ways of changing the constitution are more common. The General Assembly can initiate an amendment, which is how Issue 1 is appearing on the ballot. The third way is the Citizen Initiated Petition, which is what would change if the amendment were approved.

Currently, Ohio requires petitioners to gather at least five percent of the electors in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. The petitioners also have to acquire at least 10 percent of the electors that have voted for governor in the previous gubernatorial election. Petitioners that have filed an insufficient number of signatures are given an additional 10 days to gather signatures.

A “yes” vote on Issue 1 would require Citizen Initiated Constitutional Amendments to gather signatures from five percent of the electors in all 88 counties while maintaining the 10 percent of electors that have voted for governor in the previous gubernatorial election. The amendment also does away with the 10-day period to gather additional signatures.

Redistricting and Marcy’s Law are examples of Citizen Initiated petitions that have changed the constitution. Both of those were well above the 60 percent threshold. Marijuana legalization and reducing bail for certain drug offenses are examples of Citizen Initiated petitions that failed.

A “yes” vote on Issue 1 will approve the expanded requirements to approve a Constitutional Amendment.

A “no” vote opposes amending the Ohio Constitution and will keep in place the current threshold of 50 percent plus one vote that has been in place since 1912 and will only require signatures from 44 counties. It will also keep in place the additional 10-day period petitioners have to gather additional signatures, if needed.

Over 170 Constitutional Amendments have been made to Ohio’s Constitution since the Constitution was changed to require a simple majority in 1912.

The League of Women Voters presented the reasons for and against Issue 1:

In Support of a YES vote:

* Protects the Ohio Constitution by making it harder to amend, thus making the Ohio Constitution more like the U.S. Constitution.

* Encourages a smaller state government by making it more difficult to raise funds through statewide bonds. which does not allow spending beyond the $750,000 debt limit as mandated in the Ohio Constitution.

* Protects the Ohio Constitution from special interests by making it more difficult for amendments to win approval by requiring a supermajority of votes cast, rather than a simple majority.

* Expands the five percent signature requirement from voters in 44 counties to voters in every one of Ohio’s 88 counties, thus preventing citizens proposing constitutional amendments from cherry picking where they gather signatures.

* Eliminates second bites at the apple by repealing the “cure period” for signatures submitted in support of proposed Citizen Initiated amendments, beginning in 2024.

* Moves Ohio closer to the policy of 32 states that do not allow citizen-initiated constitutional amendments and matches Florida’s 60% approval threshold for all constitutional amendments.

In Support of a NO vote:

* Ends the principle of majority rule, by permitting 40 percent of the voters to block Constitutional amendments.

* Reduces the ability of the state to raise funds for conservation, economic development, and technology projects through statewide bonds.

* Permits the voters of any county to have a virtual veto over citizen-led constitutional initiatives by requiring signatures from all 88 rather than 44 counties.

* Eliminates the “cure period” that gives citizen-led ballot initiative campaigns an additional 10 days to secure signatures if they come up short.

* Makes the use of citizen initiatives to propose amendments to the Ohio Constitution prohibitively expensive and only available to a few well-funded special interest groups. Greatly increases the difficulty for Ohioans to use the initiative power when the Ohio government is unresponsive or corrupt.

* Is unnecessary because Ohioans have used their initiative power judiciously, approving only 19 of 71 (citizen initiated) of proposed amendments over 111 years and in 2015. Ohioans approved an amendment prohibiting businesses from using the initiative process to obtain any special benefit.

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

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