ICYMI: Republican Politicians’ Craven Attacks on Voters are Now Embarrassing Our State on the National Stage
April 24, 2023
Columbus, OH – In case you missed it, the Washington Post did a deep dive over the weekend on the craven political attacks GOP politicians are launching on Ohio voters as they work to effectively end citizen-led ballot initiatives in Ohio. As the Post reports, these efforts are clearly targeted at preventing voters from securing key rights, including abortion rights. The Washington Post dubbed the GOP political gamesmanship playing out in Columbus ‘as transparent as it is cynical.’
“Facing the possibility that abortion rights could be enshrined into the state constitution by a vote of the people later this year, Republicans want to change the rules by making it tougher to pass such amendments by requiring them to receive 60 percent of the vote. The effort is as transparent as it is cynical,” writes Dan Balz for the Washington Post.
“GOP politicians in Columbus have stooped so low that they are drawing national attention to their shameless, politically-motivated efforts to rig the game in their favor and prevent Ohio voters from making their voices heard on key issues like abortion rights. We will continue to fight these attacks on Ohio voters with every tool we have,” said Matt Keyes, spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party.
Read more from the Washington Post HERE and below:
- For 111 years, Ohio voters have lived with a set of rules for amending their state constitution through citizen initiative. The requirements have not changed and the threshold for enactment has always been 50 percent plus one. Today, Republicans in the legislature want to change that. The reason is abortion, and the maneuvering underway there adds to a bigger story about the Republican Party.
- The story in Ohio is somewhat convoluted, as legislative and parliamentary processes often are. But the motive is clear: Facing the possibility that abortion rights could be enshrined into the state constitution by a vote of the people later this year, Republicans want to change the rules by making it tougher to pass such amendments by requiring them to receive 60 percent of the vote.
- The effort is as transparent as it is cynical. Some proponents of the rule change will not specify that abortion politics is the reason they are rushing to do this. They offer alternative explanations for their thinking, such as protecting the integrity of the state constitution from nefarious special interests and keeping the constitution from being mucked up with all manner of minor or narrow amendments. Proponents of the abortion rights amendment, however, say those explanations are hollow and hypocritical.
- It speaks to the state of contemporary politics and the mind-set of many Republican elected officials, who are using their power in state legislatures to undo rules that they see as unfavorable to them. Early and mail-in voting regulations are prime examples of such action. As seems to be the case with abortion in Ohio, Republican lawmakers are trying to change rules when public opinion appears to be against them.
- LaRose said the proposal was designed “to help protect the Ohio Constitution from continued abuse by special interests and out-of-state activists.” Later, Stewart said explicitly in a letter to fellow Republicans in the state House that the reason for the new proposal was because the left was trying to do “an end run around us” to put abortion rights into the state constitution and to give “unelected liberals” and allies on the state Supreme Court power to draw legislative districts.
- There is one other wrinkle in all this. Ohio recently did away with its August elections (except in a few cases) on the grounds that they were costly and generally resulted in low turnout. Having failed to enact the rules change measure in the lame-duck session late last year, the first opportunity to take this to the voters would be next November, in which case it would not apply to the reproductive rights amendment.
- So now, proponents of raising the threshold for passage of constitutional amendments also want to authorize an August election. State Senate President Matt Huffman (R) said recently that spending $20 million on an August election is worth the money “if we save 30,000 lives as a result.”
- Rather than trying to convince a majority of Ohio voters that abortion rights should not be added to the state constitution, Republican legislators have decided to try to move the goal posts. As Curtin has said, this represents a clear attempt to take power away from citizens and put it in the hands of statehouse politicians. That is the way things work these days.