Columbus Dispatch
July 19, 2023

Issue 1: It is already hard enough to amend Ohio’s constitution| Opinion

‘Ohioans have one effective weapon against this power and greed — the citizen-driven ballot initiative to change the constitution with a simple majority of voter approval,’ Mayda Sanchez Shingler

Mayda Sanchez Shingler

Guest Columnist

Our heavily gerrymandered state legislative districts have led to members of our general assembly being easily re-elected.

That’s the way they and their corporate-backed campaign contributors like it.

The politicians keep a lock on their power, and the big special interests get the legislation they want.

Ohioans have one effective weapon against this power and greed — the citizen-driven ballot initiative to change the constitution with a simple majority of voter approval.

The politicians in Columbus now want to take this weapon away from Ohioans by passing Issue 1 on the August 8 ballot.

The legislature wants to change our constitution so that a simple majority of voters can no longer pass needed amendments. They want to raise the votes needed to 60% claiming that it should be harder to pass amendments to the constitution even though we have been using a simple majority to do so since 1912.

Contrary to what our state legislators say, it is not easy to pass an amendment to the constitution even using a simple majority of the vote.

Of the 76 citizen-driven ballot initiatives from 1912 to 2018 only 20, about 25%, have passed.

Some of those that were successful, however, were very important.

  • In 1912, 57.5% of state voters approved a constitutional amendment to check the power of corrupt statehouse politicians.
  • In 2015, 51.3% of state voters wanted to protect the Ohio Constitution from corporate interests and approved an amendment to do just that.
  • The citizen-driven ballot initiative has also been used to keep more money in the pockets of property owners instead of giving it to local governments. One such amendment to the constitution aimed at keeping local governments from levying property taxes that exceed 1% of true value.

Mike Curtin, a former lawmaker and retired Columbus Dispatch editor and associate publisher, is quoted as saying about this citizen-driven ballot initiative, “(i)t’s a jewel in the crown of direct democracy in Ohio and yet as popular as it was, it didn’t get to 60.”

The amendment passed with 59.69% of the vote.

Our citizens’ ability to tell the government no, and check the power of government should not be blocked by a minority of voters.  This is exactly what Issue 1 on the August 8 ballot would do — create minority rule.

One would think that the conservative lawmakers who want us to pass Issue 1 would appreciate the ability to limit the power of government.

But power has gone to their heads. They don’t want to have any checks on their behavior.

In their safe seats, they want free reign to take care of themselves and their special interest friends.

Ohioans should not give up on the democratic principle of majority rule.

We must all vote on August 8 and vote ‘no’ on Issue 1.

It’s the conservative way of checking those in power…and the politicians at the Statehouse don’t like it.

Mayda Sanchez Shingler is the Executive Director of the Ohio Sustainable Business Council and a leader of the Ohio Business for Democracy Collaborative.


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