Lessons Offered from the Ohio Vote

Whether All Sides LEARN Those Lessons is in Question

What Was This All About?

On the surface, the issues were quite clear. The effort run by Republican legislators sought to change Ohio law, saying that referendums must pass by 60% of the vote, vs half the vote (50%) +1, which has been the law for decades. Also included were requirements making it harder for citizens to gather enough signatures to get something on the ballot.

But a great deal more was, of course, at stake. This referendum was done to kill off the ballot initiative scheduled for this Fall to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. Quite naturally, those who think a woman should make this decision voted against the referendum that just failed by an overwhelming majority.

What Turned the Voters Out in Droves

The other interesting factor here was the widespread resentment of this effort to cut the people out of the decision process in so blatant a fashion. First, the law in Ohio has always been to have no referendums in August, since so many people are on vacation. The legislature reversed that rule specifically for this vote, in a clearly stated goal to lower turnout, hoping antichoice voters would be more likely to turn out.

Second, this business of raising the minimum vote to pass a referendum was made for the sole purpose of defeating the upcoming November referendum; no other rationale was offered. That’s because no other rationale existed.

Third, many assigned polling places were arbitrarily changed in urban areas just one week before the vote. All in all, the most heavy handed effort one can imagine by a legislature determined to have its way, citizens be damned. And the people saw that, loud and clear.

The People Spoke – Again

This attempted hijacking of democracy (sadly, a Republican specialty these days) crushed in the polls. A significant portion of the NO vote came from independents and a not insignificant number of Republicans who would not stand for such a power grab. A number of antiabortion voters also voted against this effort to bypass the people and to run roughshod over democracy. The profiles of who voted this thing down are remarkable – very much across the political spectrum.

This was forecast. The effort to put the abortion rights referendum into the constitution came in with many more signatures than required. Add to all those folks those who will not accept a coup by the legislature, and you end up where this one did.

There is a most interesting pattern here. Now a half dozen states have sought by popular vote to ensure women’s freedom to choose. Every time, including in some very conservative places, that right won by large margins. Also every time, Republican legislators railed against this freedom and did their best to scuttle the votes. By now, such folks should have learned their lesson, but I would not count on it. These folks have little interest in anything outside their own agendas. Happily, this will cost them dearly.

What Next?

There are several more states working to get abortion rights secured by state constitutions and/or laws. A number look likely to succeed. It would be foolish to assume this alone will decide elections in 2024 but abortion rights are likely to be among the leading, if not the leading motivator for a great many voters next year. Equally important, a genuine resentment of legislators who ignore their citizens is taking root widely. This may be a surprise, and most welcome, variable in 2024.

What goes around, comes around.

See you next week.

   Bill Clontz

If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do three things:

(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here. If you wish to share COMMENTS anonymously, make the last word in your comment “PRIVATE.” I will assure your privacy via anonymity.

(2) Share the word about this post with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts (https://agentsofreason.com).

(3) You are welcome to share this post with anyone. It is easy to pass on via email, of course, but also on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Reddit; simply click on the links for these services at the end of this article.

Let’s grow our circle.

3 replies to Lessons Offered from the Ohio Vote

  1. I just keep hoping that things will turn around – that my faith in people is not unfounded and that we can just stop being so mean to each other its exhausting,

  2. Thanks for your comments but as an Ohio pollworker I would like to offer two minor corrections:

    First, August special elections were only prohibited in Dec 2022 by the unconstitutionally gerrymandered Republican supermajority in the statehouse. Before that, such elections were fairly common. In prohibiting August special elections, Republican lawmakers explained that due to their historically low turnout, such elections were undemocratic. In May 2023, however, those same legislators voted to hold the special election in Aug 2023 in a cynical (and ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to slip their amendment past voters.

    Second, polling places were changed as a result of the 2020 census, as required by law. In our county, at least, changes were announced at the beginning of the year and were publicized in various ways. Changes to polling locations are made by county elections boards, not by the state legislature. Some voters were undoubtedly surprised to be told that they were at the wrong voting location, but they would not have been denied the right to vote as they would have been directed to their new polling location, which likely would have been fairly close in urban areas. (In Cuyahoga County, where I live, we have about 270 polling locations.)

    Finally, while Ohio Republican lawmakers fear the upcoming reproductive rights amendment vote, they are probably more fearful of the effort underway to amend the Ohio constitution to create a bipartisan redistricting commission that could actually reduce gerrymandering,

    • Excellent tune up and additions. Thank you, and THANKS for being a poll worker. You show up where it counts.

Your Turn to Comment