Secretary of State Frank LaRose and State Rep. Brian Stewart recently announced an effort to change the Ohio Constitution in order to make it harder for Ohio citizens to successfully pass ballot initiatives. House Joint Resolution 6 (HJR6) is a power grab, plain and simple. It is unnecessary, unfair, unpopular, and undemocratic.
A broad coalition of groups is organizing to stop this attack on direct democracy in its tracks.
1. The proposal may be voted on next week by a committee and the entire House. Tell your Ohio House Representative you oppose this undemocratic proposal. Find your House member (and contact information) HERE
2. Attend a statewide Rally for Democracy!, Tuesday, December 13, 2022, 11:15 AM, Trinity Episcopal Church, 125 E Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215. Details HERE
Ohio has a time-honored tradition of citizen campaigns. Since 1912, Ohioans from across the political spectrum have utilized the right to amend our Constitution via the petition process. We are proud to live in a state that gives voters the right to direct democracy and the ability to have a real say in politics. We see no justifiable reason, after over 100 years, to suddenly make this already challenging process even harder.
Proposals like this are extremely unpopular with voters, even in more conservative states. A proposal to require a supermajority for passage was handily defeated by the voters of Arkansas just a few weeks ago, and the voters of South Dakota repudiated one in June, 2022.
Ohioans are well aware that citizen-initiated ballot campaigns are not easy, requiring hundreds of thousands of verified signatures and a strict geographical distribution across at least half of Ohio’s 88 counties.
The process is not overused. There hasn’t been a citizen initiated ballot measure before voters since 2018. Over the past 10 years, there were only four elections with ballot measures through signature collection. In the past 50 years, there were 28 years without a citizen initiative on the ballot. Of those elections that had a ballot measure, only a handful of the elections had more than one issue for voters to consider.
This is NOT a good-government reform. Making the ballot initiative process even harder for citizens groups will have the opposite of the desired effect: it will make it almost impossible for anyone except big money special interests to successfully pass a ballot initiative in Ohio.
Even when initiatives to amend the constitution fail, they have spurred a deeper public dialogue and legislative action. Some examples:
- Voters defeated the pro-marijuana citizen initiative in 2015, but the campaign raised awareness and support for medical marijuana. The following year, the Ohio General Assembly passed legislation to legalize marijuana for medical treatment.
- Citizens groups were in the process of collecting signatures for an anti-gerrymandering ballot initiative in 2017. As a result of their efforts, the legislature was prompted to negotiate with the citizens groups and put forth a bipartisan proposal. Voters approved this congressional redistricting reform proposal in May 2018.
- Voters defeated the Drug Relief Act in 2017, but attention to the issue prompted the state to begin investigating middle brokers ripping off the system and costing Ohio consumers millions of dollars
This proposal will take power away from voters. It’s unpopular with voters and rigs the game against Ohioans.
Take Action to oppose HJR6!