EDITORIAL: Amendment process should be preserved

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 13, 2023

Sometimes, when politicians fail to act, the public does.

This was the case in recent years in Ohio, when the state’s voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment on the ballot aimed at curbing gerrymandering and legislative and congressional districts favoring one party.

As a result, when the state’s Republican-dominated redistricting commission produced maps that the Ohio Supreme Court found to disproportionately favor the re-election of Republicans, they were repeatedly struck down.

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The issue of these districts had been around for some time, but, as the General Assembly was dominated by Republicans, they weren’t going to touch a system that worked in their favor, so it was left to activist groups, to put the issue on the ballot and to voters, to decide on the matter.

The 2018 vote is a prime example of how the ballot issue process worked for the public, allowing it to gain movement toward a solution with an amendment where entrenched lawmakers failed to act.

And, since that result was detrimental to the controlling party, it is no wonder that Republicans now want to take that option away from the public and make it more difficult to act.

As it exists now, it requires just a simple majority, above 50 percent, to pass an amendment.

But this week, the Republican-dominated General Assembly passed a resolution which will put the process on an August special election ballot, changing it so that amendments must require 60 percent to pass.

While amendments have passed at the state level by healthy majorities, none have secured that 60 percent to date.

By raising this threshold, it would basically make it next to impossible for the public to act through the amendment process.

Those opposing the change in the process are not limited to Democrats. Every living ex-governor of the state, as well as both Republican and Democratic former attorneys general and the Ohio Libertarian Party have expressed opposition to the proposed change.

So, this summer, voters will have to decide. 

It is imperative that the public keep this critical check on stubborn lawmakers. We urge voters to reject the proposed changes this August.