“Undemocratic,” “Dangerous and Disingenuous,” “Unnecessary:” Ohio Republicans Called Out for Playing Political Games
March 30, 2023
Columbus, OH – Ohio Republicans are having a bad week with their blatant political games on full display. After eliminating August special elections only months ago, GOP politicians ranging from Frank LaRose to Matt Huffman are now pushing for a $20 million taxpayer-funded special election in August so that they can effectively kill citizen-led ballot initiatives in Ohio. And they’re rightfully being called out for it.
“Ohio Republicans know they’re on the wrong side of the issues voters care about which is why politicians like Frank LaRose and Matt Huffman are playing political games at taxpayers’ expense to rig the rules in their favor. Ohio voters don’t get to play by a different set of rules when things don’t go their way – neither should their politicians,” said Matt Keyes, spokesperson for the Ohio Democratic Party.
See what Ohio voters are reading about Ohio Republicans’ hypocritical power grab:
- A word sums up an effort led by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Senate President Matt Huffman, State Rep. Brian Stewart and others to steal a power Ohioans have enjoyed since 1912: undemocratic.
- It is amazing that some Republicans in the Statehouse would push so hard to change how the state amends the constitution by forcing a vote during a low-turnout August election months after the same lawmakers voted that such elections should be limited. This entire effort slaps voters in the face and betrays our democracy.
- It is particularly despicable and disappointing that LaRose, the officer charged with ensuring fair Ohio elections, pretends placing such a measure on an August ballot would be just.
- LaRose, Huffman and the rest want to stack the deck against Ohio voters. The basic rules of engagement shouldn’t be changed just because they fit one political agenda or another. That’s not democracy.
- Still, some Republicans in the Ohio Statehouse find themselves so desperate to control every aspect of peoples’ lives in this state that they will break their own rules to achieve it.
- It would be a Hail Mary attempt to convince whatever microscopic portion of Ohio’s electorate who would break away from their swimming pools and golf courses to vote in August that they should approve an unnecessary and undemocratic constitutional amendment.
- Aconstitutional amendment in which Ohio voters would, in effect, be saying to Huffman — please, sir, we’d like you to take away part of the power of our votes.
- Republican Frank LaRose, Ohio’s secretary of state and chief elections officer, used to agree with Stephens on the uselessness of August elections.
- But, on Tuesday, he said he had changed his mind.
- Did we mention that this “special election” to serve the political purposes of Huffman and his Statehouse crew would cost the taxpayers $20 million?
- The supporters of the resolution say the current system is easily influenced by special interest groups and outside organizations, but so far, critics argue that only special interest groups – some not even from Ohio – are pushing for the legislation.
- “They’re redistricting reformers or they’re folks that are worried about reproductive rights,” Turcer said. “They are folks who live in Ohio and want to have a good life in Ohio that want to change the Ohio Constitution.”
- She says Ohio already has guard rails against people meddling in the constitution, and there are rarely any citizen-led amendments because of how difficult it is to meet all the requirements.
- “The only people who are concerned about changing the Ohio Constitution are special interests themselves and the state legislature who want to take power away from voters by diluting their ability to change the Ohio Constitution,” she added.
- In testimony on House Bill 458 in December, LaRose wrote about some August 2020 special elections with what he called “embarrassingly low turnout” of 11.8% and 6.8%.
- “That means just a handful of voters end up making big decisions. The side that wins is often the one that has a vested interest in the passage of the issue up for consideration. This isn’t how democracy is supposed to work.”
- But if Republican lawmakers approve Senate Bill 92, reviving the August special election to vote on the requirement of 60% voter approval for constitutional amendments proposed by state lawmakers, LaRose said he’s ok with that.
- “As a course of action, normal course of doing business, yes, I do not believe in having elections in August as a normal way of holding elections. But if the state legislature decides to hold an election in August, it’s not unusual,” LaRose said.
- In fact, it is unusual. There have been only two August statewide votes regarding the constitution, one to approve an entirely new constitution in 1874, and one for an amendment in 1926. Both were overwhelmingly rejected.