Voters, take note.
This is what a power grab looks like.
We already saw power-grabbing when lawmakers refused to abide by your wishes and passed rigged and gerrymandered maps that provided a veto-proof majority for the GOP.
They’re again using that dominance, this time to go after the rights of all Ohioans — Democrats and Republicans. Legislators want to hold an August election to make it harder to amend the state constitution by increasing the threshold of “yes” votes to 60%, up from the current 50% plus one.
Republicans, who have said these August special elections are a waste of taxpayers’ money, call this a pre-emptive effort to make it harder for a potential pro-choice ballot initiative to pass while keeping hold of power.
Don’t believe me. Look at the GOP comments:
1. Lawmakers this past January ended August elections because they cost $20 million, a hefty sum since few people (8%) vote. Attorney General Frank LaRose called the elections “wasteful and cost the taxpayers precious scarce resources.” He also said August elections, “aren’t good for taxpayers, election officials, voters or the civic health of our state.”
2. Republicans say opposing the pro-choice amendment justifies an August election. Sen. Matt Huffman, the Ohio Senate president, said: “If we save 30,000 lives as a result of spending $20 million, I think that’s a great thing.” (Ohio Department of Health statistics show about 22,000 induced abortions in Ohio in 2021.)
3. Republicans worry about another, less-discussed amendment that would create an independent body to draw legislative maps. Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) said, in a letter to the GOP caucus, “Democrats now intend to rewrite the Ohio constitution to put … unelected liberals in charge of drawing legislative districts, affecting not only the Ohio legislature but control of the United State House of Representatives as well.”
4. LaRose, who just months ago led the fight against August elections, now says one would be OK because Ohio must protect the state constitution from special interests. That’s interesting considering ….
5. An out-of-state billionaire, according to the Columbus Dispatch, has donated $1 million to the PAC that supports the efforts to make it harder to change the constitution.
6. While GOP lawmakers (88%) strongly support the August election, far fewer (56%) believe voters will approve it, according to a Gongwer Werth Legislative Opinion Poll.
7. Ohio’s bipartisan group of elections officials, more than 200 bipartisan groups, four former Ohio governors — Bob Taft, John Kasich, Ted Strickland, and Richard Celeste — and former R and D attorneys general all oppose the August election, according to the Ohio Capital Journal and Cleveland.com. That’s a lot of bipartisan opposition.
Let’s recap, based on what Republicans have told us.
They said August special elections cost too much, then said we had to have one to stop a pro-choice amendment and protect the state from special interests like the one that pumped $1 million into the effort to make it harder for Ohioans to exercise their rights. And we don’t want anyone unrigging the system we rigged that lets us do what we want, when we want, including clamping down on Ohioan’s rights.
Who’s OK with that?
Huffman and Stewart deserve credit because they’ve been honest in telling voters what’s at stake (for them). They care about stopping pro-choice efforts and holding on the power.
That’s a breath of fresh air, and I’m not being facetious. Good for them.
The state has until Wednesday (May 10) to vote to put the amendment, called House Joint Resolution 1, on the August ballot.
Pay attention, Ohio.
Ray Marcano’s columns appear each Sunday on these pages. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.