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Ohioans defeat Issue One in victory for democracy and abortion rights
The defeat of a measure to make amending Ohio's constitution more difficult means a reproductive rights measure on the November ballot will face a simple-majority passage threshold.
On Tuesday, the big winners in Ohio were democracy, reproductive rights and, ultimately, Ohioans, who pushed back a gerrymandered-legislature-led effort by Republicans to make it more difficult for voters to amend the state’s constitution.
Issue One, the measure to raise the threshold for passing voter-led constitutional amendments to 60%, was being defeated 43%-57%, as of 11:30 p.m.
The defeat also means that a reproductive rights amendment on the November ballot in Ohio backed by supporters of abortion rights will be subject to the same simple-majority passage threshold that other amendment proposals have faced in Ohio for more than 100 years.
At the same time, the Ohio Republican Party found itself facing its worst statewide defeat since Sen. Sherrod Brown defended his Senate seat against Jim Renacci’s general election challenge in 2018.
And this is likely just the beginning of the Republicans’ woes in Ohio.
In just one sign of how far Ohio Republicans overstepped here, Issue One was losing in Ohio’s Clark County by one (1) vote, as of 11:30 p.m. In contrast, Donald Trump won the county in 2020 by a 60.8%-37.5% margin. Even if the Issue One margin ultimately flips in Clark County, it will still be an unbelievably large swing.
An update at 1 a.m. Wednesday, from Clark County Democratic Party Chair Austin Smith, who responded to me about Tuesday’s vote: “Winning by 1 vote is huge but just the start for Clark County Dems.”
In another sign that made me personally proud, I was happy to see Mahoning County — where I grew up in a suburb of Youngstown, and where Trump and Trumpism had made significant inroads over the past eight years — joined with the rest of Northeast Ohio and soundly voted down Issue One.
As Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio told Law Dork recently:
[R]adical politicians want to quash our voice and they want to make all the decisions. And that's just not right. Not right in a democracy, for sure. …
For over 100 years, the state of Ohio has had referendum and being able to amend the Constitution when the people say we disagree with our representatives. We have to continue to have the ability to do that in a majority vote way. Not in not in this way where 40% decides for 60%. No no. In a democracy, we've been doing 50% plus one for a long time. It works real well for us — for over 100 years. That's what we need to keep doing.
On Tuesday, Ohioans agreed with Antonio.
Coverage of the results says so much.
From my old hometown paper during my law school and lawyering years, the Columbus Dispatch put it directly:
Cameron Joseph at Bolts, where I am contributor, put it in the context of the anti-democracy aims here:
Over at Abortion, Every Day, Jessica Valenti puts it as succinctly and with-a-breath-of-relief-ly as I could ever put it with her headline:
Of course, this is just one vote on one day, but it’s also part of a pattern that we’ve seen since the Kansas vote more than a year ago, on Aug. 2, 2022: Voters are not accepting the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Subsequent votes — most notably in the midterm elections, but in special elections before and since then — have reiterated that, as well as laying down signals that other right-wing overreach could face similar fates.
In short, voters are listening, watching, and … voting.
This breaking news report was updated and expanded after initial publication with the final update at 1:00 a.m. Aug. 9.
Law Dork is brought to you by Chris Geidner, who was raised in Ohio and is a Buckeye through and through. Subscribe today, even if you’re from the state up north.