MEDIA ROUNDUP: Ohio’s State Issue 1 Struck Down by Voters, Scores Major Win for the Future of Direct Democracy

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August 10, 2023

Britton Lee
[email protected]

MEDIA ROUNDUP: Ohio’s State Issue 1 Struck Down by Voters, Scores Major Win for the Future of Direct Democracy 

WASHINGTON — Earlier this week, voters in Ohio struck down State Issue 1, which would have raised the threshold for a constitutional amendment to pass from a simple majority to 60%. Additionally, if Issue 1 had passed, it would have doubled the number of counties from which signatures must be gathered from 44 to 88 – the most restrictive requirements in the country – and removed the 10-day grace period for verifying and closing gaps in the valid total number of signatures.

Leading up to the election, the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center’s legal and policy advocacy director, Sarah Walker, spoke with various news organizations and reporters to illustrate the impact of this special election.

For partial coverage of Sarah’s commentary on Ohio’s Issue 1, see below:

The New York Times: “‘Republican-led legislatures have increasingly sought to rein in ballot initiatives, mostly without success, in the last decade. Those efforts have ramped up since the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe. v. Wade’, said Sarah Walker, the director of legal and policy advocacy at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a nonprofit advocacy group.

What happens in Ohio is likely to shape the contours of what that debate looks like going forward,’ she said.”

The Economist: “Ohio is not the only state where the legislature is pushing back against ballot initiatives. The Ballot Initiative Strategy Centre, a group that supports progressive votes, has tracked 50 initiative-limiting measures across 14 states this year. It’s the ‘culmination of ten years of what [Republican-controlled legislatures] view as progressive wins’, says Sarah Walker, one of the group’s strategists, but ‘the Supreme Court’s decision with Dobbs has amplified those concerns.’”

The Washington Post: “‘Ohio is going to shape the contours of this conversation going forward,’ said Sarah Walker, the policy and legal advocacy director at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, which helps with liberal ballot measures.

“Speaking before the race was called, she said: ‘If it’s a resounding defeat, it will send a very strong message that it is not in the interest of policymakers to attempt to restrict the citizen-initiative process.’”

NPR: Ballot initiatives are being used right now and have historically been used more heavily at moments and times where the public does not feel like the government is actually representing them.

What people want is they want to see systemic societal issues addressed.”

POLITICO:‘I think it’s risky for Republicans when the public very much links the Dobbs decision and abortion rights to restrictions on ballot initiatives, because neither one of them have been winning issues for them,’ said Sarah Walker, policy and legal advocacy director for the progressive Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.”

Ohio Capital Journal: Sarah Walker, the policy and legal advocacy director for the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, which works to support progressive ballot measures, said she views the push to restrict ballot initiatives as closely tied to higher-profile efforts, in some states, to tighten voting laws in what voter advocates have called suppression.”

It’s ultimately another step on the road towards authoritarianism and towards consolidated power,’ said Walker. “And what happens in Ohio is going to shape … whether or not these attacks on direct democracy are going to continue.’”

If you’re interested in connecting with someone from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center regarding the ongoing efforts to subvert the initiative process, please contact Britton Lee ([email protected])