Ohio Voters Reject Measure Targeted at Blocking Abortion Rights Amendment – Rolling Stone


Ohio residents on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a GOP effort that would have made it more difficult to change the state’s constitution. The hastily-called special election took place ahead of a November vote on whether to enshrine the right to abortion in the state’s constitution. 

Abortion is currently legal up to 22 weeks in Ohio, while a 6-week ban passed by Republicans lawmakers in 2019 is being challenged in court.

Last year, Republicans lawmakers banned August special elections, citing their enormous cost and low voter turnout. Five months after that — as momentum was building behind the campaign for a constitutional amendment to protect the right to abortion in Ohio — the same GOP-controlled legislature scheduled an August special election on Issue 1. Had the measure passed, it would have raised the threshold to add an amendment to the state’s constitution from a simple majority to 60 percent.

Issue 1, Republicans initially argued, was about stopping out-of-state special interest groups from wreaking havoc in Ohio elections. That argument was undercut by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who admitted at one point: “This is 100% about keeping a radical, pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.” (The argument was further eroded by the fact that the chief funder for the primary group advocating for Issue 1 was a billionaire from Illinois.)

The move drew swift condemnation, from former governors John Kasich and Bob Taft, both Republicans, as well as Dick Celeste and Ted Strickland, Democrats. Kasich said that during his time as governor, he experienced 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.” He added, “It wouldn’t have been right then, and it isn’t right now.” 

An overwhelming majority of Ohioans seemed to agree: More than 60 percent voted to reject the proposal raising the threshold. 

“It is a resounding rejection of Issue 1, and it should serve as further embarrassment to the lawmakers who attempted this in the first place,” Kelly Hall, the executive director of the Fairness Project, told Rolling Stone on Tuesday night. “We thought that they should be embarrassed about even attempting to curtail direct democracy rights and further remove voters from participating in democracy. But they should be particularly embarrassed that their voters so resoundingly rejected the opportunity to vote their own rights away… This is not a subtle message coming back to lawmakers who thought that they could change the rules of the game mid-stream and pull one over on Ohio voters.”


Turnout for the special election was unusually high. Before the polls even opened on election day almost 700,000 people — 8.77% of the electorate — had already cast early votes. 

“Ohio is the most recent example of the tightly interlinked fights for democracy and reproductive freedom,“ Yasmin Radjy, Executive Director of Swing Left said in an email statement on Tuesday night. She credited volunteers’ work — 13,000 doors knocked, 63,000 calls made, 300,000 letters sent, by SwingLeft’s count — for the victory. “When we write, and call, and knock, and vote, together,” Radjy said, “We can prevent the extremist minority from deciding what’s best for all of us.”

Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/ohio-abortion-constitutional-amendment-special-election-1234802761/

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