Washington, DC —  This week, Rolling Stone covered the coordinated attack by conservative state legislators and special interests to crack down on citizen-initiated ballot measures in order to further restrict abortion rights.

The latest such attack is an effort by special interests and politicians in Ohio, including Secretary of State Frank LaRose, in advance of a potential reproductive freedom amendment on Ohioans’ ballots this November. On August 8 Ohio will hold a special election on Issue 1, a proposal from the state legislature that would end majority rule by requiring 60% of voters to approve future ballot measures.

LaRose has publicly denied that the special election is intended to block voters from deciding on reproductive rights in November, but behind closed doors he told political insiders that Issue 1 is “100% about … abortion.” Similar efforts to crack down on ballot measures and limit voters’ influence have also been proposed in South Dakota, North Dakota, Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, and more states.

READ: Republicans Are Torching Democracy to Deny Women Abortions

“It was always a ruse,” says Kelly Hall, the executive director of the Fairness Project, which works to advance ballot measures on a variety of issues in states around the country. “When anti-abortion activists said ‘we want to return this to the people,’ that was never true. And we are now witnessing how not true it was because they are now very explicitly saying, ‘Well, actually, we don’t care about reflecting the views of the American people in the policies that govern access to abortion. What we are interested in, as a shrinking minority, is to impose our views on everyone, and ignore the fact that we live in a democracy.’”

The Fairness Project is working to support the One Person, One Vote: Vote No In August effort, and has organized over $5.6 million since 2021 to fight back against similar efforts across the country as part of its Ballot Measure Rescue Campaign.

“…It is the nakedness of what they are doing that is new,” Hall says. “They are saying: ‘We know that voters disagree with us on this issue, and rather than us changing how we govern to be more in line with the people who we are elected to represent, we are going to change the rules of governance itself to make sure that we don’t have to listen to our constituents.’ That is new, that is wild, that is that should freak everyone out — regardless of how you feel about abortion — because it means that we have let our elected representatives get completely untethered from the fundamental role that they are elected to fulfill, which is to represent our views. They are saying in black and white in print, in no uncertain terms: ‘We are not going to listen to you.’”

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