With democracy and reproductive rights on the line, voters in Ohio slapped down the GOP’s scheme to make it more difficult to amend the state’s constitution.
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In a special election scheduled specifically to prevent this from happening, Buckeye State voters on Tuesday soundly rejected a Republican scheme that would have made it more difficult for Ohioans to pass ballot initiatives. The result is a significant setback for the GOP’s efforts to stifle democracy and impose its anti-choice ideology on women.
That’s a real problem for Republicans because anti-democracy measures and draconian laws seeking to control women’s bodies are two centerpieces of their platform.
What happened in Ohio is symptomatic of what is going on throughout the US, and it merits a closer look.
First of all, it’s important to know that, even though Ohio has traditionally been a swing state, Republicans have used extremely gerrymandered maps, including one in 2022 that had been ruled unconstitutional, to give themselves a stranglehold in the state Legislature and an overrepresentation in Congress.
The numbers are actually quite shocking.
Over the past decade, Republicans have enjoyed about an 8-point popular vote advantage in the Buckeye State, which was also Donald Trump’s margin of victory in the 2020 election.
However, you wouldn’t know that Ohio is fairly closely divided when looking at its state Legislature. In the House, GOP lawmakers won 67 out of 99 seats, which would be representative if they had won the popular vote by 35 points rather than eight.
In the Senate, their majority is even crazier. Thanks to these gerrymandered districts, Republicans hold 26 of 33 seats. That would only be a fair representation if they had won the popular vote by nearly 60 points and not by single digits.
As a result of these rigged maps, Republicans can do pretty much whatever they want. However, there is one pebble in the boot they have on the necks of the 45 percent of Ohioans who are not GOP voters.
A century-old mechanism allows the state’s citizens to pass ballot initiatives with a simple majority.
If you are vehemently anti-democracy, as Ohio Republicans clearly are, that doesn’t work at all. Especially not when there will be a measure on the ballot in November that is expected to pass and would codify a woman’s right to an abortion in the state’s constitution.
And that is why GOP lawmakers tried to sneak by voters their own initiative to change the rules.
They scheduled a special election in August, when voter participation is traditionally low, to put “Issue 1” to a vote. That measure, which only had to pass with a simple majority, would have forced all future ballot initiatives to get the support of 60 percent of voters to pass.
After all, the GOP thought, why let the citizens of the Buckeye State ruin the plans of those ill-gotten supermajorities?
Well, Ohioans felt differently and smacked down Issue 1.
The 57-43 vote was representative of a trend we are seeing throughout the country. When democracy is on the ballot, Republicans usually lose.
That bodes well for next year. Unfortunately, it also leaves a lot of time for Republicans to continue to rig the playing field in their favor.