Columbus, OH — In the latest attack on direct democracy, Ohio legislators on Wednesday voted to advance a supermajority threshold for future ballot measures, co-opting a tactic being pushed by extremist officials in multiple states to limit voters’ decision-making power.
The state Senate voted to pass Senate Joint Resolution 2, which would end majority rule and further consolidate politicians’ control by requiring 60% of voters to approve future ballot measures instead of a simple majority. On the House side, the Constitutional Resolutions Committee also advanced its version of the resolution, House Joint Resolution 1. If the bill also passes the full state House, the question will be referred to voters in an August special election.
Anti-abortion groups have been open about the fact that efforts to advance the supermajority threshold are intended to block a potential measure this November that would enshrine reproductive freedom in the state constitution. However, if the threshold were to be raised to 60%, it would impact all future ballot measures, not just those related to abortion.
In response to the vote, Fairness Project Executive Director Kelly Hall issued the following statement:
“This bill is a shameful, anti-democratic proposal that would end the concept of ‘one person, one vote’ in Ohio. The fact is that Ohio legislators are feeling threatened by voters being able to exercise their power without permission from politicians — and instead of having a real debate on issues that matter, they are taking the cowardly route of changing the rules of the game.
“While anti-abortion interests are trying to implement this supermajority threshold in order to block a potential measure on abortion rights this November, this change would not only impact citizens’ ability to protect their reproductive freedom; it would erode voters’ ability to make their own decisions on any issue going forward. This is not what democracy is about, and the bill must be defeated.”
In response to repeated attacks on direct democracy, including in states like South Dakota, Arkansas, Ohio and more, the Fairness Project has been fighting to defend the ballot measure process and ensure citizens can use this critical tool for years to come. Since last year, the Fairness Project has organized $5.6 million to fight back through its Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign.