Why It Matters—HJR1 and SJR2 Background Information
Since 1912, Ohioans have used citizen-led ballot initiatives to have a direct say in our government, but now, with House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR1) and Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR2), Secretary of State Frank LaRose, State Rep. Brian Stewart, and Senators Theresa Gaverone and Rob McColley are trying to make the process much harder.
HJR1 and SJR2 would require a 60% “YES” vote to pass a constitutional amendment and make it harder for issues to get onto the ballot by requiring signature collection in all 88 counties and removing the “cure period,” after signatures are turned in when a campaign is allowed to go back out and collect more to try to make up for a shortfall. Lawmakers are also proposing we handle this at a special August election when voter turnout is traditionally low. This cynical attack on our democracy is unfair, unpopular, undemocratic, and unnecessary.
Unfair & Unnecessary – Ohio citizens must already secure hundreds of thousands of verified signatures in at least half of Ohio’s 88 counties to put a ballot measure before the voters. It is necessary for the state legislature to pass proposed amendments by a supermajority. It is hard to amend the Ohio Constitution. Unfortunately, this proposed resolution would make it almost impossible for anyone except big money special interests to successfully pass a ballot initiative in Ohio. HJR 1 rigs the process against everyday Ohioans.
Unpopular – Proposals like this are extremely unpopular, especially in conservative states. A similar proposal was handily defeated in Arkansas and the voters of South Dakota repudiated one in June 2022. If HJR1 or SJR2 passes, only Ohio and Florida would require 60% support for any citizen-led ballot measure to become law.
Undemocratic – HJR1/SJR2 aren’t about any one issue. This proposal is an attack on all Ohioans’ ability to pass citizen-initiated ballot measures. Ohioans only use the citizen initiative if the state legislature is not accountable to the voters—and we know the gerrymandered maps pushed through by the Ohio Redistricting Commission mean our Ohio Representatives and Senators are insulated from accountability and any need for responsive law making. Making it harder for citizen-led ballot initiatives to pass is their latest attempt to silence Ohioans.
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