Ohio Constitution question heads to August ballot

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 16, 2023

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ohio voters will get the chance to decide whether to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments just ahead of possible November vote on an amendment that would enshrine abortion rights in the state.

A resolution asking voters in an August election to raise the threshold for future amendments from a simple majority to 60 percent cleared the politically fractured Ohio House 62-37 on Wednesday. Five majority Republicans joined all Democrats in opposing it. The policy battle has consumed the state for months.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade ruling guaranteeing abortion rights last year, other states’ amendments involving the procedure have shown voter support for legal access to abortion is between 50% and 60%, whether in conservative Kansas, Democratic-leaning Michigan or Republican-leaning Kentucky. No vote has exceeded 60 percent.

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AP VoteCast polling last year found 59 percent of Ohio voters say abortion should generally be legal.

The resolution’s Republican backers continued to characterize the effort as a constitutional protection act aimed at keeping deep-pocketed special interests out of Ohio’s foundational documents, while Democrats lambasted it as an assault on democracy.

Cries of protest resounded through the Statehouse as Wednesday’s debate took place, and Democratic lawmakers produced hand-painted signs from under their seats just after the vote and exited the chamber chanting, “One person, one vote.”