Issue 1: Ohioans Voting Today To Protect State Constitution From Special Interest Groups Hell-Bent On Gun Control And Abortion Rights

Ohio voters are heading to the polls today for a special election to determine how hard it should be to amend their state Constitution...

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Filler

s it currently stands, a citizen-initiated ballot effort needs 50% plus one to amend the Constitution. If Issue 1 passes, the threshold will be raised to 60% plus one, a supermajority. In addition, if Issue 1 passes, groups seeking to amend the Constitution will need to obtain signatures from all 88 counties in Ohio rather than the current number of 44.

The Ohio legislature put the issue on the ballot to raise the threshold for amending the state Constitution. As the law currently stands, it’s fairly easy for special-interest groups, often from out of state, to come in and pour tens of millions of dollars into a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment proposal without any involvement from one-half of Ohio counties. I’ve often been surprised on Election Day to open my ballot only to find a constitutional amendment I’d never heard of. That’s because I live in a small rural county that’s not usually the target of canvassers seeking signatures to put an issue on the ballot. The special-interest groups pick and choose which counties to target and leave the other 44 without a voice in the matter.

An astounding $32 million has been poured into the efforts for and against Issue 1 for an August special election when turnout is traditionally quite low. A huge percentage of that money has come from out-of-state special-interest groups, making this a national election of sorts:

Groups supporting Issue 1 include:

  • Buckeye Firearms Association 
  • Center for Christian Virtue 
  • Created Equal  
  • Ohio Farm Bureau 
  • Ohio Pork Council 
  • Ohio Right to Life 
  • Protect Women Ohio 
  • School Choice Ohio Alliance 
  • Sportsmen’s Alliance 
  • The Buckeye Institute 

Groups lined up against Issue 1 include:

  • ACLU of Ohio 
  • American Civil Liberties Union 
  • Children’s Defense Fund Ohio 
  • Democratic Socialists of America 
  • End Citizens United 
  • Equality Ohio 
  • Everytown for Gun Safety 
  • Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio 
  • Human Rights Campaign 
  • League of Women Voters of Ohio 
  • Moms Demand Action 
  • Ohio Environmental Council 
  • Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights 
  • Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom 
  • Our Revolution (Bernie Sanders’ PAC)
  • Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio 
  • Pro-Choice Ohio 
  • Protect Choice Ohio 
  • Sierra Club Ohio 
  • Sixteen Thirty Fund (a progressive dark-money group)
  • The Lincoln Project (of course)
  • Tides Foundation 
  • Most of the labor unions in the state

Why, you may be asking, are all these out-of-state left-wing groups aligned against issue 1? It’s because they can’t get their policies through the conservative Ohio legislature. They hope to make end-runs around the process by enshrining issues like abortion rights (through all nine months of pregnancy), gun control, and radical environmentalism into the state Constitution with a simple 50%-plus-one majority. In fact, radical abortion-rights supporters already have a proposed amendment on the ballot in November. If Issue 1 passes, they’d need to get a supermajority in November rather than a simple majority.

The constitutional amendment process has been abused for decades to help everyone from payday lenders to casinos, among other big-money interests, who have essentially written their business plans into the Ohio Constitution. In fact, the casinos used the constitutional amendment process to give themselves a gambling monopoly in the state, even including real estate plats in the Constitution to show where their casinos would go.

The state Constitution has been amended almost 200 times and contains nearly 70,000 words. It “looks like a paperback novel, something you’d pick up in the grocery store with Fabio on the cover,” LaRose quipped. Compare that to the U.S. Constituiton. “There have been 11,000 attempts throughout our history, but it’s only been amended 27 times because the founders said you need 75% of states to ratify constitutional amendments,” he added. “It’s about 7,000 words. It has led our nation through some very challenging times. And it fits in your pocket.”

Turnout is reportedly high in the state, according to the AP:

As of Wednesday, more than 533,000 people had voted by mail or in-person since early voting began July 11, according to data collected by The Associated Press. That’s nearly double the final early voting figures for Ohio’s two previous midterm primary elections, which included races for governor and Congress. In the May 2022 primary, for example, 288,700 people voted early, according to AP data.

It’s also more than three times the roughly 142,000 early ballots cast by mail or in-person during last year’s August elections, although drawing a comparison is tricky. August special elections traditionally have been held in even-numbered years and are intended for local races and issues. The last statewide question on an August ballot in Ohio was in 1926.

There have been rallies, debates, and emotional ad campaigns both for and against Issue 1. Early voting indicates that those opposing it had an early advantage, according to the AP: “As of Tuesday, voters identified by L2 as Democrats had cast more than 52% of ballots, compared with 40% by voters identified as Republicans. Independents cast the remaining ballots, according to the firm, which models party affiliation using the partisan primary a voter most recently participated in.”

The polls close in Ohio at 7:30 PM EDT. ✪

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