Although voters in Highland County unofficially approved of Ohio Issue 1 in Tuesday’s special election, about 57 percent of voters statewide rejected the ballot initiative.
Had it passed, Issue 1 would have required a majority of at least 60 percent of voters to enact new amendments to the state constitution and changed the signature-gathering process for citizen amendments. Currently, campaigns need signatures from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties for a constitutional amendment to appear on the ballot. Issue 1 would have required signatures from all 88 counties and eliminate the 10-day period for campaigns to gather additional signatures if the original submission did not have enough valid entries.
“I was certainly disappointed and certainly I think my view of the importance of protecting the constitution was very representative of the district I represent,” said state Rep. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina). “Eighty percent of Highland County or more voted for protecting the constitution as did 75 percent of Fayette County, and Ross and Pike were strong supporters also. We’ve got to find a way to make sure that billionaires and outside interests from California and New York don’t take over our constitution.”
In Highland County 6,496 voted yes on Issue 1, while 2,559 voted no. Statewide, the unofficial figures were 1,744,094 against and 1,315,346 for the issue.
Peterson said he thinks this election was an example of outside interests interfering with Ohio politics. “I mean the ‘no’ campaign outspent the yes campaign three to one, and the vast, vast majority of those no campaign dollars came from places other than Ohio,” he said.
The Issue 1 vote precedes an abortion rights measure that will be on the ballot in Ohio in November. It has determined that November’s referendum will be able to be passed with a simple majority of 50 percent plus one vote rather than a threshold of 60 percent plus one vote.
The upcoming November referendum sets Ohio as the next major battleground for abortion rights after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade last year.
“Tonight is a major victory for democracy in Ohio,” said Dennis Willard, a spokesman for One Person, One Vote, the coalition that urged Ohioans to vote against Issue 1. “The majority still rules for democracy in Ohio.”
In Highland County the numbers were
If the abortion measure is passed by voters in the November election, it will overturn Ohio’s 2019 law that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The law is currently being debated in court.
While Issue 1 was widely opposed by Democrats and progressives, Republicans and conservative groups were divided on the issue.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, along with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Ohio Right to Life, the Buckeye Firearms Association and other organizations supported Issue 1.
In May, DeWine told Ohio reporters, “The concern is that people can come in, outside forces, outside the state of Ohio and spend a ton of money to try to impact that. The better process is frankly, through the legislative process.”
Former Ohio Republican Governors John Kasich and Bob Taft, however, opposed Issue 1.
“I’ve experienced that firsthand, having policies backed by myself and a majority of the legislature’s members overturned at the ballot box, and it never occurred to me to try to limit Ohioans’ right to do that,” Kasich said on Twitter in April. “It wouldn’t have been right then, and it isn’t right now.”
Reach John Hackley at 937-402-2571.