ONC reporting – Since 1912, Ohioans have been able to change the state constitution with just over 50 percent of the vote. Passage of Issue 1 on the ballot Aug. 8 would increase the threshold to 60 percent.
Supporters of Issue 1 think Ohio’s constitution will be protected from out-of-state special interests. While opponents worry that Issue 1 will take away citizen-driven ballot initiatives.
“When you take in the grand scheme of things, and you understand that our maps are drawn unfairly, that we do not have fair representation at the statehouse, it makes things a lot more challenging in the state when people’s voices aren’t being heard directly because they are being silenced by lawmakers who gerrymandered their way into position,” said Kayla Griffin, a state director for All Voting is Local Action Ohio, an organization that focuses on the voting rights of communities who historically have been disenfranchised.
These communities include young voters, low-income people, people of color, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas.
If Issue 1 is passed, 5% of the eligible voters of each county would need to sign a petition establishing any initiative to change the constitution. Griffin said she worries that would make it harder for specific interests, like minimum wage, to appear on the ballot. This November, Ohio voters may be able to vote to increase the minimum wage to $10.50 in 2025 and $15 an hour by 2028.
“Minimum wage has not been brought up by our state lawmakers because they do not want to increase the earnings of our citizens here in the state. And so that’s something that has gone to the ballot because we’re trying to make sure that everybody has a living wage in our state and we wanted to make sure that people have the right to advocate for themselves in order to get that.”
All Voting is Local Action Ohio is not focused on the issue of raising the minimum wage. Griffin just provided it as one example.
If Issue 1 succeeds, it would also be more difficult for a proposed abortion-rights initiative to pass this November.
Protect Our Constitution is a coalition of many groups that seek to defend Ohio’s constitution from outside special interests groups and are supporters of Issue 1.
Spencer Gross, spokesperson for Protect Our Constitution, said Issue 1 adds more weight to the people’s vote.
“This really brings Ohio more in line with other states to have a more traditional legislative process, and one that actually empowers people even more than allowing an outside special interest to come in and try to buy their policy in the state constitution.”