VOICES: Don’t sit this one out Aug. 8 election

Since 1912, Ohioans have had a constitutional right to pass constitutional amendments when our elected officials have failed to meet the needs of our communities. We accomplish this through citizen-led ballot initiatives. Issue 1 on the August 8th ballot proposes to make this century-old process almost impossible to achieve. The League of Women Voters of Oxford endorses a NO VOTE ON ISSUE 1 IN AUGUST.

Issue 1 would change Ohio’s citizen-led ballot initiative process. Currently, if Ohioans feel their representatives are not being responsive to issues that matter to their constituents, they can join together in a grassroots effort to get an initiative on the ballot. If Issue 1 is passed, only special interests with a lot of money to spend would be able to get on the ballot.

First, to get an initiative on the ballot, signatures would be required from all 88 Ohio counties, rather than the current requirement of 44 counties. It would be a herculean task for grassroots organizations to have an on-the-ground presence in every county in Ohio; it is likely that only well-funded special interests would be able to do so by paying people to collect signatures. Second, Issue 1 removes the 10-day grace period during which petition errors can be corrected. Finally, if an initiative does make it to the ballot, a 60% supermajority of voters would be required to pass the initiative, replacing the 50% + 1 simple majority that is currently in place.

The League of Women Voters and hundreds of grassroots organizations are speaking out against Issue 1. All prior Ohio Governors and Attorneys General, both Republican and Democrat, have also come out against this issue. Through constitutional amendments, Ohioans have approved pensions for war veterans, funded school construction, integrated the Ohio National Guard, repaired infrastructure, and protected conservation areas.

The League of Women Voters believes that democratic government depends upon informed and active participation in government. Issue 1 reduces the ability for Ohioans to actively participate in their democracy. The League of Women Voters of Oxford encourages voters to be informed on this issue and to cast their ballot in the August 8th election. Don’t sit this one out.

Jenny Fisher is the Co-president of Organization for the League of Women Voters of Oxford.

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