On Issue 1, vote a resounding ‘no’

We face an epic question in the Aug. 8 special election. Do we keep our power as voters to make important decisions about our lives and vote a resounding “no” on Issue 1? Or do we place our full trust in lobbyists and politicians in Columbus?

Ohio has a proud history where 50 percent plus 1 equals winning in sports and democracy in politics.

In 1912, 57.5 percent of state voters approved a constitutional amendment to check power of corrupt Statehouse politicians. It’s not easy to pass a constitutional amendment. Since 1913, only 71 citizen-driven ballot initiatives made it to the ballot; only 19 were approved by voters.

For example, in 2015, voters wanted to protect the Ohio Constitution from corporate interests and passed an anti-monopoly amendment by 51.3 percent. Our citizens’ ability to check overreaching power of government should not be blocked by a minority of voters. This is what a yes to Issue 1 would do.

Imagine. It is a crisp fall day. Ohio State fans across Ohio are anxious to watch the Buckeyes face the Wolverines to see who will claim bragging rights for the next year. Hours later, Buckeyes have racked up 59 points vs. the Wolverines’ 41 points. Yet, the disbelieving fans are informed the Wolverines won. They were following the Issue 1 formula. The game is rigged in favor of the team with fewer points. If they score one more than 40 percent of the points, they win.

Ohioans across the political spectrum are saying “no” to rigging rules against Ohioans. All living Republican and Democratic former Ohio governors and attorneys general, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police, and AFL-CIO have endorsed a “no” vote on issue 1. Also 240 citizen groups are against it with strong opposition across party lines. One recent poll had 41 percent of Republicans and an overwhelming majority of Democrats opposed.

Issue 1 would make getting a citizen-led constitutional amendment on the ballot and passed by far the most difficult in the U.S. Issue 1 would raise the threshold for approving citizen-initiated constitutional amendments from the current simple majority to a supermajority of 60 percent. It also would stiffen the already challenging signature requirements. Meanwhile, the legislature would not have to get one citizen signature to put a constitutional initiative on the ballot.

Ohioans have used their power judiciously. Yet, the same politicians that created unconstitutional partisan gerrymandered voting maps to give them a super-majority want us to believe we should trust them to protect the constitution. Why would we trust politicians, who don’t follow the constitution, to hold all power over it and the future of our families and Ohio?

Amendments that have been passed by more than 50percent yet would have failed under the proposed Issue 1 amendment include: expanding voting rights beyond white males; ending straight-party ticket balloting; allowing women and people of color to join the Ohio National Guard; establishing the Clean Ohio fund; raising minimum wage; and creating the Third Frontier Economic Development initiative. Those amendments made Ohio a more just community.

So, what problems are Columbus politicians trying to solve? Why is a special election scheduled now, costing taxpayers over $20 million?

Politicians claim the timing of the election is meant to stop Ohioans from deciding the Right to Choose by majority vote. Yet they have this and much more in mind. They want to push their extreme agenda and close off the path for We the People to make important decisions about our lives. Issue 1 would permanently enshrine their power grab in the constitution.

Join Ohioans of each political party and those not affiliated with any party, in proving the cynical politicians in Columbus wrong. Be part of an overwhelming voter turnout and vote “no.” Send a message to Columbus that the ultimate power rests with citizens. Remind them they were elected to serve Ohioans, not rule over us.

Karen Zehr is secretary of the Trumbull County Democratic Party and volunteer coordinator and director of voter outreach.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today