August 8 Special Election
On Tuesday, August 8 there is a special election in the State of Ohio and the only item on the ballot is Issue 1. It is a little confusing because both sides are advertising similar slogans “Protect our Constitution” and “Protect Ohio from out of State Interests.” I’m no political expert, but here is my best shot at explaining the issue and why Catholics should be interested.
Issue 1 proposes changes to the process of amending the Ohio Constitution in two ways. Current Ohio Law requires a simple majority (50%+1) for the Ohio Constitution to be amended. In addition, any petitioned amendment to the Constitution requires signatures of 5% of the voting population from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.
A “Yes” vote on Issue 1 would raise the threshold of passing an Amendment to the State Constitution from a simple majority to 60%. Moreover, going forward, any petitioned amendment to the Constitution will require the signatures of 5% of the voting population from all 88 counties instead of only 44 counties.
Groups opposing Issue 1 state that it ends majority rule, making it unnecessarily difficult for Constitutional amendments to be passed. In addition, the opponents claim that a “Yes” vote would destroy citizen driven amendments because of the undue burdens placed on the collection of signatures.
Proponents of Issue 1 point out that Ohio is among the nine states with the weakest standards for passing constitutional amendments, which makes the state susceptible to being manipulated by interest groups. For example, the United States Constitution, to pass amendments requires a 2/3 vote in both houses of Congress and 3/4 of the states to ratify. Proponents claim that a “Yes” vote on Issue 1 allows a statewide vetting process for proposed amendments. Previous Constitutional amendments have easily surpassed the 60% threshold.
Ohio lawmakers have placed Issue 1 on the ballot to give Ohioans an opportunity to weigh in on amendments that are being circulated – including an extreme abortion amendment, sweeping changes to the minimum wage, targeting of law enforcement through qualified immunity, and threatened initiatives on ranked-choice voting, green energy, and drug use.
This Issue is particularly important for the upcoming November election. In all likelihood, a Constitutional Amendment will be on the ballot, which removes parents’ rights in protecting their children from harmful decisions, allows abortion through nine months of pregnancy and enshrines the “right” to sex-change surgery and hormones for minors. If the November issue is passed, it will be incredibly detrimental for our state.
The Bishops of Ohio do not have a position on Issue 1 as it does not have moral content. However, as responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation, the bishops urge Catholics in Ohio to vote in the special election. Although Issue 1 does not have moral content, it could have consequences for other seriously moral issues.
I hope that that helps to clear some of the confusion. If it only muddies the waters, I apologize.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson