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Rebutting A Pile of Issue 1 Lies

The Actual History of Amendments in Ohio

When politicians try to convince the people of a state to give their own power away, so that the politicians themselves face even less accountability, it’s a tough sell to begin with.

And when that political body pushing for less accountability is already considered the most corrupt in the nation, it’s an even tougher sell.

So what are the GOP politicians of Ohio doing to try to convince Ohioans to vote for Issue 1, which would strip voters of their own power to amend the Ohio Constitution by majority vote after collecting signatures? A power they’ve enjoyed for more than a century?

They’re lying through their teeth about the whole thing, that’s what! Because asking people to give away their own power wouldn’t work, and they know it.

Specifically, what’s the closing message for the “Yes on Issue 1” side?

If you’ve turned on your TV of late, you’ve seen it: Ohio must stop so-called “out-of-state special interests” from taking advantage of Ohio’s citizen-led amendment process to “impose their radical views on Ohio.”


What are the actual facts, and the history?

As I explain in the video above, they’re the exact opposite of what the “Yes on 1” campaign is trying to scare Ohio voters into believing.

Here are the basic numbers since 1913, when citizens tired of a corrupt statehouse first enacted the reform allowing them to initiate Constitutional amendments and then pass them by majority vote (by the way, 45 of 50 states use a simple majority rule threshold when it comes to voters ratifying state Constitutional amendments):

  1. there have been 227 votes on Ohio Constitutional Amendments placed before the voters;

  2. 55% of those have passed;

  3. Sounds like a lot? Well, here’s the trick…156 of those 227 were Amendments put forward by the General Assembly! You see, they have their own process to do so, and they’ve been the ones pushing forward Amendments regularly. Some for good reason; others to simply gin up turnout for an upcoming election (think of the same-sex marriage ban in 2004). Heck, Issue 1 makes for the third such amendment in the last 300 days—all put forward by the very people complaining that the Amendment process is being abused.

  4. When the legislature puts their amendments forward, they are largely successful; about two-thirds of these—106 out of 156—have passed over those 110 years.

    But their ads and narrative have not been about their own amendments, have they? They’ve been about the citizen-led amendments, and raising the spectre of outside groups pushing those.

    So what about those? More facts:

  5.  Only 71 of the 227 Amendments since 1913 have come from the citizens gathering and submitting signatures. How many of those have passed? Half? A third? Guess again!

  6. Only 19! Only 26% of them. 19, in 110 years! That’s the “crisis” that the GOP is trying to scare Ohioans about in this mad-dash special election. It turns out, it’s actually hard to convince Ohioans to change the Constitution. They are reticent to do so. So it’s rarely happened. And especially when the citizens try it, they have a much lower success rate than when the politicians do. But now gerrymandered politicians are running an entire campaign acting as if the citizen-led process is the threat to Ohio. It’s disinformation that would make Orwell blush.

But let’s look a little deeper, shall we?

What have those successful 19 Amendments been about? What so-called out-of-state goals were accomplished? What “radical” horrors did the good people of Ohio inflict on themselves when they ratified them?

Here are some of what these Amendments achieved:

  1. Home rule and charter government options for Ohio counties (yes, a big priority of out-of-state interests)

  2. The 10-mill property tax cap for counties, requiring local elections to go above that level (another big priority of “the liberals” from out of state, I’m sure)

  3. Integrating the Ohio National Guard so that women and African Americans could serve in it

  4. Removing the term “white man” from the Ohio Constitution when it came to describing who can vote in Ohio (those pesky “radicals,” at it again!)

  5. Raising the minimum wage from around $6 per hour (out-of-state-driven insanity, I tell ya!)

Sarcasm aside, I’m struggling to imagine almost any Ohioans looking back at these Amendments and thinking they were a mistake, let alone that they were driven by some out-of-state interests as opposed to in-state citizens who advocated for changes that a majority of Ohioans sensibly ratified on election day.

But here’s the kicker, folks — not one of those Amendments I just listed got to 60% of the vote on election day. Under the new, minority-rule threshold that Issue 1 would enshrine, NONE of those would’ve passed.

Not an integrated National Guard.

Not a higher minimum wage.

Not a clarification that all Ohioans can vote, as opposed to only white men.

NONE of these would’ve become our law if they’d been subject to the right-wing’s proposed “minority rule” provision.

Folks, here’s the truth: Issue 1 is nothing but a blunt-force power grab by a gerrymandered, extremist and corrupt legislature hell-bent on securing its own power, and feeling threatened by the common sense of an electorate that disagrees with them on most of their extremist priorities (like an abortion ban, with no exceptions for rape or incest).

But since they can’t say that, the entire sales pitch for their power grab is built on a lie.

And those examples show just how damage this grotesque rigging of our Ohio Constitution would do if it succeeded. Not to some mythic out-of-state interest. But to the state itself, and the people who live here.

To our present, and our future.

5 days left.

Share this with those you know, so they also see the lies and can rebut them.


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David Pepper