Columbus, OH — This week, The New Yorker spotlighted how advocates for direct democracy, including the Fairness Project, are fighting back against to right-wing attacks on the ballot measure process in Ohio in advance of a proposed reproductive rights amendment this fall. 

Last month, Ohio legislators passed SJR2, putting a 60% supermajority threshold for future ballot measures before voters in an August special election. A citizen-led coalition of local, state, and national organizations, including the Fairness Project, is now spearheading the Vote No in August: One Person One Vote to defeat the proposed 60% supermajority amendment. 

The resolution in Ohio is the latest in a string of attacks on the ballot measure process. Last year, legislators in South Dakota and Arkansas attempted to implement a 60% threshold but it was rejected by voters. Arizona politicians succeeded, however, and other states including North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Arizona, Missouri, Florida, and Arkansas have seen action in their legislatures around attacking ballot measures this year alone.

Read in The New Yorker: The Abortion Fight Has Voters Turning to Ballot Initiatives

“In recent years, voters across the country have approved progressive initiatives expanding Medicaid access, strengthening gun laws, raising the minimum wage, and legalizing marijuana. It’s no surprise, then, that conservative Republicans are currently the ones most often trying to raise the threshold….

…Minutes after the legislature set the election date, dozens of organizations launched a campaign, Vote No in August, to combat what they call a “special election for special interests.” Framing the fight as a matter of personal freedom, they are hoping to defeat the ballot measure, then replicate successes last year in Vermont and California, where voters responded to the Dobbs decision by adding reproductive rights to their constitutions, and in Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana—states that lean conservative—where voters rejected attempts to restrict abortion. 

Kelly Hall, the executive director of the Fairness Project, which advances progressive ballot measures, told me, “We will make sure that the voters of Ohio understand the implications, not just for the abortion issue that is coming in November but all of the other issues that Ohio voters will want to vote on in the future.”

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