“An Exercise in Cynicism:” Cleveland.com Editorial Board Blasts GOP Attacks on Citizen-Led Ballot Initiatives
April 6, 2023
Columbus, OH — In case you missed it, the Cleveland.com editorial board pulled no punches this week in going after Republican politicians in Columbus for their multi-pronged effort to effectively kill citizen-led ballot initiatives.
“It’s also not hard to see that behind HJR 1 and the revival of the August special election is the idea that a simple majority of Ohio voters shouldn’t be enough — that majority shouldn’t rule, that a majority of citizens’ wishes don’t count when it comes to overruling what Statehouse figures want. Yet, if we are to draw any lessons from the Larry Householder/House Bill 6 corruption scandal, it is that what Statehouse figures want is sometimes very, very bad for Ohio,” writes the editorial board.
High-level Republicans, ranging from Matt Huffman to Frank LaRose (who Cleveland.com dubs Ohio’s cynic-in-chief), are pulling every lever they can to take away citizen-led ballot initiatives in Ohio, including by pushing legislation to create a $20 million taxpayer-funded special election in August – after they eliminated August special elections only months ago.
Read more from the Cleveland.com editorial board HERE and below:
- As an exercise in cynicism, it’s bad enough that GOP lawmakers contend proposed House Joint Resolution 1 is just to keep the Ohio Constitution from being cluttered up with all sorts of special-interest nonsense.
- In reality, the measure, which is still in committee, would all but trash citizen-initiated constitutional amendment rights Ohioans have enjoyed since 1912.
- But the cynicism of HJR 1 is made worse, if that can be possible, by the push to revive the August special election option that legislators virtually abolished just two months ago. Abolished so definitively, in fact, that Republicans have had to introduce another bill to allow (and authorize $20 million to pay for) a possible special election Aug. 8 to try to get HJR 1 passed before the November election.
- It’s also not hard to see that behind HJR 1 and the revival of the August special election is the idea that a simple majority of Ohio voters shouldn’t be enough — that majority shouldn’t rule, that a majority of citizens’ wishes don’t count when it comes to overruling what Statehouse figures want.
- Yet, if we are to draw any lessons from the Larry Householder/House Bill 6 corruption scandal, it is that what Statehouse figures want is sometimes very, very bad for Ohio — and that, if citizens as a whole want to amend what happens at the Statehouse, they should be able to, without poison-pill legislative maneuvering or dark-money corruption.
- In January, August special elections were seen as unneeded, costly exercises by Ohio cynic-in-chief Frank LaRose, who as Ohio secretary of state is Ohio’s chief elections officer. LaRose was full of praise in January when Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 458 into law. The bill, into which all manner of major electoral changes, including photo voter IDs and tighter absentee-ballot deadlines, had been crammed, started out life — and is titled — “Eliminate August special elections except for US House nomination.”
- Now, he and others can hardly wait to hold another August special election, courtesy of $20 million of our tax dollars (if Senate Bill 92, which is now pending in a Senate committee, or another measure authorizing this passes, of course).
- Far less widely noted are two provisions that apply only to citizen-initiated efforts and that would make it almost impossible for regular citizens even to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot. HJR 1 would mandate petition-signature targets in all 88 Ohio counties, not just the 44 required now, and it would eliminate the 10-day “cure” period to fix any deficiency in signatures by gathering more if some are disallowed.
- At one stroke, HJR 1 could wipe out those reforms and leave Ohio citizens’ referendum rights in tatters.