On August 8, Ohioans will vote on Issue 1 and decide whether to change the voting threshold to amend their state’s constitution from a simple majority (50% plus one) to 60%. CatholicVote and other Catholic and pro-life leaders are advocating a “Yes” vote on Issue 1.
By all accounts, Ohio is a fairly conservative “red state.” In the last two presidential contests, it voted Republican by a margin of eight points, and in last year’s midterms, it re-elected Gov. Mike DeWine, R-OH, by a landslide 25-point margin.
In a LOOPcast interview, Ohio resident and CatholicVote National Political Director Logan Church said the state is one of faith, family, and freedom. “The people here are salt of the earth, and it’s so far from the California, New York ideals that people want to force down the voters’ throats,” Church said.
Ohio’s constitution, however, currently has more in common with the 514-amendment California constitution than it does with the governing documents of some fellow red states.
States that are in the company of Ohio in allowing “initiated amendments” include California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Oregon. All of these blue states have what Planned Parenthood considers “accessible” or “mostly accessible” abortion.
By contrast, many red states pride themselves on constitutions that are among the hardest in the nation to amend. One of these states is Wyoming, which in the last two presidential elections went Republican by the largest margin in the nation.
Wyoming not only disallows petition-initiated constitutional amendments, but it is one of just under half of U.S. states that do away with statewide initiatives and referenda altogether.
Instead, like in most non-initiative states, amendments to Wyoming’s constitution must be proposed by either the state legislature or a constitutional convention. Either way, amendments require a two-thirds majority of both houses of the state legislature, as it takes this percentage of the vote to put either an amendment or a constitutional convention on the ballot.
Notably, Wyoming has used the same version of its constitution since achieving statehood in 1890, making it one of a minority of 20 states to have never replaced its founding document.
Ohio even lags behind the other red states that do allow amendments to originate by petition.
Of the states that do allow initiated amendments, Oklahoma currently has the shortest time limit within which signatures must be gathered to put an amendment on the ballot, making it very challenging for special interest groups from outside the state to manipulate its constitution.
Most states allow a one-year window from the first to the final signature. In Oklahoma, in order to put an initiated amendment on the ballot, one can only spend a maximum of 90 days collecting signatures.
However, Ohio is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Along with Arkansas, it is one of only two states where signatures gathered for a petition never expire. As KUSA explains, proponents of a proposed amendment there can circulate a petition for “years if they want to.”
In short, passing Issue 1 is a crucial step to keep Ohio’s constitution in the hands of its own citizens and away from the abortion lobby and other big-moneyed interests.