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2022 Election Hub · May 18, 2023

About State Issue 1

In a disturbing trend that consolidates power in the hands of conservative lawmakers, Ohio’s legislative Republicans are pushing a proposal to make it harder for citizens to pass ballot measures. This blatant attempt to undermine direct democracy, on the ballot in August, would impose new obstacles on citizens striving to enact policy changes and protect our rights.

The proposed changes, appearing on ballots statewide at a newly-scheduled August 8 special election, aims to raise the voting requirement from a simple majority to 60% and require a minimum number of signatures be collected from all 88 counties in Ohio, up from 44 today. These changes would make it nearly impossible for all but the most well-funded campaigns to collect signatures and pass an initiated ballot measure, forever entrenching the power of special interests over the grassroots.

This effort aligns with a broader strategy observed across the country, led by conservative groups seeking to limit the influence of citizen-led initiatives and suppress the voices of ordinary people. From imposing stricter signature requirements to introducing procedural roadblocks, these measures undermine the fundamental principles of democratic governance and restrict the power of ordinary citizens.

The argument for these changes – that the constitution is too vulnerable to frivolous changes by outside groups – is a thinly veiled excuse by lawmakers in power and the special interests that support them to preserve their own power. The reality is that Ohio voters have enjoyed the power of citizen initiatives since 1912 under the existing rules, during which time citizens have successfully amended Ohio’s constitution only 19 times. The vast majority of these efforts fail. 

Constitutional amendments since 1912…

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Direct democracy through initiatives and referendums is an essential tool that allows citizens to hold elected officials accountable and address urgent issues when they fail to act. By raising the voting threshold and imposing stricter signature requirements, Ohio’s Republicans are effectively snatching away the power of the people to shape their own destinies and protect their rights.

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