Paid for by the League of Women Voters of Darke County
Ohio has a proud political heritage, which voters must protect and uphold on August 8th by soundly defeating State Issue 1.
In 1912, efforts to use a constitutional amendment to give Ohio women the vote failed, but that same year Ohio voters adopted the revolutionary concept of the citizen initiative—allowing average citizens to propose and pass amendments to the Ohio Constitution to counter Statehouse corruption and special-interest influence.
Over the past 111 years, Ohioans have been judicious with that power—adopting just 19 of 71 citizen-initiated amendments. Vital, citizen-led reforms have included home rule for liquor sales, the 10-mill limit on unvoted property taxes, home rule for counties, and the elimination of straight-ticket voting. None of these reforms reached a 60% passage rate.
During the Great Depression, Ohioans adopted an initiative long-honored by fiscal conservatives known as the 10-mill limit on unvoted property taxes. This has been instrumental in preventing state politicians from raising your property taxes. It won by a landslide of 59.7% in November of 1933.
In the same election, Ohioans approved an initiative providing home rule for counties, which allowed local self-government in our 88 counties winning by 53.3% of the vote. In November of 1949, an initiative was approved to eliminate straight-ticket voting, requiring separate votes for each office on the ballot. Its passage rate was 57.3%. More recently, in 2006, Ohio voters approved an initiative raising the state minimum wage and pegging it to inflation, passing by 56.6%.
None of these ballot initiatives met a 60% threshold, and few ballot measures ever do. Statehouse lawmakers, who now want to require future amendments to attain 60% approval for passage, have paid little attention to the lessons of Ohio constitutional history.
These politicians want to go even further, requiring a minimum number of signatures in all 88 counties, not the 44 counties required currently, and eliminating the 10-day cure period for signatures.
Across the decades, Ohioans have been judicious in their use of the initiative. Passage of State Issue 1 would ignore and insult Ohioans’ record of good judgment. It would destroy the 111-year-old right to check Statehouse politicians, and it could empower special interests.
Ohio’s greatness resides in its people, not its Statehouse politicians. Over the state’s 220-year history, its people many times have been betrayed by their elected lawmakers. Statehouse chicanery never disappears. The 1912 initiative that provides citizens the power to hold Statehouse politicians accountable is as essential today as it was then. It is the most powerful tool that ordinary citizens have to root out corruption and set things right.
Ordinary Ohioans, with common sense and love of their state, must smash this arrogance to dilute their power. Vote NO on State Issue 1 on August 8th.
The views expressed in this article belong to the League of Women Voters of Darke County and not necessarily My County Link, its affiliates, or its employees.