POLITICAL Letters to the Editor
July 13, 2023 by Submitted

End of Majority Rule

The Ohio Legislature has a history of corruption (accepting bribes, violating Supreme Court rulings on gerrymandering and school funding) and catering to special interests (HB 6, refusing to regulate dark money).

They banned August elections eight months ago because they were too expensive and too few people voted. They have now broken that law by scheduling the Aug. 8 election that includes only Issue 1.

Their first argument for passing Issue 1 states “A YES vote on Issue 1 protects our Constitution from deep-pocketed, out-of-state interests.” It does not mention the $1 million donation they received from an Illinois multimillionaire.

The only recourse citizens currently have to such an unresponsive and untrustworthy legislature is a citizens-initiated constitutional amendment. The current law requires supporters for such an amendment to collect signatures from a significant minimum number of supporters in 44 of the 88 counties in Ohio to get the proposed amendment on a statewide ballot, where more than 50% of voters would have to vote for it.  This law has worked well for 112 years, but the legislature wants to require a minimum number of signatures from all 88 counties to get on the ballot and then 60% of voters to approve the amendment.

This would end majority rule in Ohio. My question is not “Why would someone vote for this?” but “Why would anyone vote for it?

Ted Kuss
Russell Township

Every Citizen’s Vote Should Count Equally

On Aug. 8, in a special election where fewer than 10% of voters typically participate, Ohioans will consider a single question on the ballot: Issue 1.

Our General Assembly, after outlawing most August special elections as costly and undemocratic, placed a critically important amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the ballot in an August special election called solely for that purpose.

Irony aside, what does this mean for voters?

If approved, Issue 1 would change the passage rate for all future proposed amendments to the Ohio Constitution from 50% of votes cast +1 — a simple majority — to 60% of votes cast. Ironically (we can’t seem to escape the irony), only a simple majority would be required to enshrine minority rule into the Ohio Constitution.

Even more significantly, under Issue 1, proposed amendments to the Ohio Constitution created through citizen-led ballot initiatives would require gathering a minimum number of valid petition signatures in all 88 counties. The current requirement is 44 counties. This means that the citizens of a single county can effectively block the wishes of every other citizen in Ohio. Think of it as minority rule, extreme edition.

These two provisions of Issue 1 are antithetical to the One Person, One Vote Doctrine, a bedrock principle of democracy that requires each person’s voting power within a state to be roughly equivalent. Issue 1, if adopted, will give greater weight to votes cast by voters in the minority than those in the majority. It should be rejected as an undemocratic attack on the citizens of Ohio.

Voters, the Aug. 8 special election deserves your closest scrutiny under the brightest light. Please make sure your family and friends are informed about this election and encourage them all to vote. Early voting begins on July 11.

For more information about voting, visit the Voting & Elections page of our website at www.lwvgeauga.org.

Shelly Lewis
President and Voter Service Chair
League of Women Voters of Geauga
Auburn Township

Stalking Horse for Defeat of Abortion Amendment

“Issue 1 Needed,” a letter to the editor appearing in a recent issue of this newspaper, offers the usual right-wing rhetorical fare: misinformation, bad argument and bad writing.

The letter starts off well enough, offering a sober argument in favor of raising the level of support for any constitutional amendment issue in Ohio from 50% to 60% of the vote count. But the writing soon degenerates in quality when it moves to the matter of abortion, offering incendiary language (abortion is “murder”); illogic (abortion past the point of conception is murder, except in cases of rape, incest, and the imminent death of the mother, in which case abortion isn’t murder); misinformation (biology shows that human personhood begins at conception, a point disputed by many embryologists); more misinformation (Christian and Jewish scripture enshrine the concepts of universal equality and equal rights, concepts that in fact weren’t formulated until the Enlightenment); and, at its lowest point, silly, sweeping generalization (“That is what the left does; it divides and oppresses; that is all it has”).

Where the writing is worst in this brand of argument — the point at which passion smothers reason — is usually the heart of the writer’s appeal. Such is the case here. Although the title of the letter is “Issue 1 Needed,” the writer cares less about Issue 1, to be voted on in August, than he does about the Ohio abortion amendment, to be voted on in the fall.

Issue 1 is simply a stalking horse for the defeat of the abortion amendment. Indeed, the letter shows clearly that the vote on Issue 1 is inextricably linked to the vote on the abortion amendment. For if the percentage of support is raised to 60% (most previous issues having passed by a margin of 50% to 60%), then the abortion amendment will most probably fail.

Therefore, if you care about a woman’s right to choose, free of the interference of meddling politicians, then you must vote “no” on Issue 1 to ensure that your vote for the abortion amendment will count fairly. All the arguments that proponents marshal in defense of Issue 1 veil their true intention: to defeat the abortion amendment in the fall. That realization should drive to the voting booth this summer all Ohio citizens who care about a woman’s right to choose.

Defeating Issue 1 is a necessary prelude to enshrining the abortion amendment in the Ohio constitution. Vote NO on Issue 1.

John McBratney
Munson Township

Protecting Ohio’s Constitution Isn’t a Partisan Issue

On Aug. 8 we should all get out and vote “yes” on Issue 1. Issue 1 is critical to our sovereignty as a state. Issue 1 will allow us to maintain control of our state constitution and prevent out-of-state special interest groups from attempting to change our constitution without a true majority of Ohio’s citizens.

Ohio’s Constitution provides protection for basic rights like freedom of speech, self-defense and religious liberty. Attempts to change or undermine these rights should come by a broad consensus (60% approval) versus the current 50%+1 threshold.

The voices from every corner of Ohio deserve to be heard. Issue 1 will require signatures from all 88 counties for constitutional amendments rather than the current requirement of 44 counties. This will assure that concerns of Geauga residents will be heard equally to those of much larger counties like Cuyahoga.

For those of you who think this is a partisan issue, the Ohio Democratic Party Constitution and Bylaws require 60% of all delegates to a convention to amend their constitution. Our U.S. Constitution likewise requires 2/3 or 66.7% of both houses of Congress and 75% of the states to amend.

If you are proud to be from Ohio and love this great state as much as I do, please get out and vote YES on issue 1 on Aug. 8.

Kevin O’Reilly, Vice Chairman
Geauga County Republican Party

Vote NO on State Issue 1

A right guaranteed by the state constitution is at risk of being taken away from Ohioans of every political persuasion. State Issue 1 practically abolishes citizen-driven initiatives, and permanently ends the popular vote to amend the state constitution. Please vote NO on state Issue 1.

There are two ways to place an amendment on the ballot. In the first method, the Ohio General Assembly can simply vote to do it. This is how Issue 1 got on the special election ballot this year.

The second method is known as a citizen initiative. In this case, initiative supporters must collect over 400,000 signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Contrary to recent claims, this is very difficult to do, and is why less than 27% of citizen-initiated amendments have actually been approved.

The architects of Issue 1 intended to increase the difficulty of collecting signatures. Instead of 44 counties, citizen groups would need to gather names for all 88 counties. This specific provision could be deadly to any future citizen initiative since it would be possible for just one exceptionally liberal or extremely conservative county to prevent an initiative from being placed on the ballot.

Since 1912, a simple majority vote (50% + 1) has been the rule to amend Ohio’s constitution. Issue 1 undermines Ohio’s popular voting system by mandating 60% voter approval for constitutional amendments. In other words, Issue 1 grants just 40% of voters a stronger say in constitutional amendments than the majority of voters. If you vote for Issue 1, you will be voting to make your vote less valuable.

Lastly, Issue 1 is unnecessary. No state of emergency exists. No budgetary crisis exists. No emergency involving health or safety exists. Simply stated, there is no rational basis for voting to overthrow Ohio’s popular voting system, which has been in place and worked well since 1912.

The Ohio constitution is not broken, and it is not a toy to be played with. Stand with democracy, and vote to protect it. Vote NO on Issue 1.

Early In-Person Voting started on July 11 and includes the Saturday and Sunday before Election Day. Absentee Voting By Mail also began on July 11. Election Day is August 8.

Sam Morrow
Lieutenant Commander, USN (Ret)

Issue 1 Takes Away our Rights

“I don’t know what it is or who commenced it, but I’m against it” – Groucho Marx

Well, just when you think the legislature can’t pull any more sneaky stuff, they do.

After getting rid of August elections last year, they just put them back.

These politicians are telling us that Issue 1 is just about having abortions.

Whoa, it’s a lot more than that. If Issue 1 passes on Aug. 8, citizens will probably never be able to change the state constitution. Us regular folks won’t have a chance at changing laws we oppose. If you don’t like laws about fair wages, safe working conditions, property rights, local zoning, taxation, clean air and water, that’s just tough. They’ve raised the bar high enough so that citizens won’t be able to make any changes.

Now don’t get worried for the politicians. They are keeping the easy rules in place for themselves. But I think they goofed somewhere along the line. These necktie types are actually letting the citizens vote Aug. 8 on Issue 1. They’re letting us vote. There must be some mistake, because anybody who didn’t ride in on the turnip wagon can smell this ballot Issue 1 from quite a ways off. It isn’t pleasant and neither is taking away your rights.

Dave Partington
Munson Township

Vote YES on Issue 1

There is an important election on Aug. 8, but many people are unaware of it. Ohio Issue 1 is on the ballot which introduces reasonable safeguards to the amendment process of the Ohio Constitution. It is critical that Ohioans vote – and vote YES – on Issue 1.

Our Founding Fathers structured our federal government as a constitutional republic. This means “We The People” provide an express and limited delegation of power to government via the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Constitution is very difficult to amend; it requires a super-majority vote from both houses of Congress, followed by ratification by at least 75% of states. This high bar prevents our God-given rights from being trampled by the federal government through a stream of amendments.

The democratic process — voters expressing their will through the electoral system — is critical for the successful functioning of any constitutional republic. This is not to be confused with direct or pure democracy, which allows for a simple voter majority of 50% plus 1 to enact any law. It has been quipped that pure democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner.

In stark contrast to the U.S. Constitution, the current amendment process of Ohio’s Constitution follows a pure democracy framework. First, paid signature gathers squat in Ohio’s densely populated counties to get amendments — largely financed by out-of-state special interest groups — on the ballot.

After a proposed amendment makes its way to the ballot, our rights can get stripped by the thinnest of voter majorities; 50% plus 1 can decide that “we’re for dinner.” Under this lax framework, the Ohio Constitution has been amended a coffee-spit-worthy 172 times!

Ohio Issue 1 forces signature gathering to occur in all counties — skipping Geauga to camp-out in Cuyahoga will no longer be an option.

And conceptually similar to the U.S. Constitution, a super-majority vote will be required to ratify any amendment to the Ohio Constitution. Gone will be the pure democracy that continuously threatens our foundational rights.

Upon exiting the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Let’s keep our republic. Voting YES on Issue 1 will fortify Ohio’s Constitution to algin with the intent of our Founding Fathers.

Join me in voting YES on Issue 1. While Election Day is Aug. 8, early voting has already started.

Carolyn Brakey, Esq.
Candidate for Geauga County Commissioner
Russell Township

Issue 1 Puts Math on Geauga’s Side

My name is Ed Rumburg and I live in Chardon, Geauga County, Ohio. My wife and I have lived here for 42 years and raised our family here. I’m urging everyone to vote YES on Issue 1.

I’m a Reagan Republican and two of his most important conservative principles were limited government and the sanctity and dignity for human life.

Both are under attack on Aug. 8 and I’m urging everyone, especially those in rural counties like Geauga, to vote YES on issue 1. Here is why:

1) We need a more thoughtful way to amend the Ohio constitution. Currently in many other states it is much tougher; most states require a 60-75% majority vote to amend a state constitution and the U.S. Constitution requires a 75% vote of the states and a 66% vote from Congress.

2) Dark money, out-of-state special interest groups are funding the “vote no” campaign. It’s estimated these groups have raised over $400 million in the last few years and will spend much of it to benefit their own agendas here in Ohio.

Do you really want people from California, New York and Chicago telling Ohioans what’s best for them? I sure don’t.

3) Issue 1 does not take away anyone’s right to vote. This issue has absolutely nothing to do with voting rights and the left’s advertisements are an out and out lie and scare tactic. This issue is all about protecting Ohio’s constitution from being filled with a special interest policy that is much better handled by Ohio’s lawmakers.

4) Remember Reagan’s principle of smaller government? The U.S. Constitution has 4,543 words… Ohio’s constitution has 67,000 words. This is not what Ohio’s founding fathers had in mind when our constitution was adopted.

Finally, in recent years, it seems that the voters in the three major cities in Ohio have decided how the Ohio Constitution is amended. That isn’t right or fair to those of us in the other 85 counties. We deserve a voice on constitutional issues as well. Issue 1 puts the math on our side and a chance to fight those amendments that are detrimental to rural Ohio.

Vote yes on Issue 1.

Ed Rumburg
Hambden Township

Issue 1 Sets in Stone Minority-Rule

The Aug. 8 special election has only one item on the ballot, State Issue 1. This would amend the Ohio Constitution to require a super-majority of 60% affirmative votes to pass any future constitutional amendment placed on the ballot by voter initiative. Ironically, this amendment needs only a simple majority to pass.

For a little historical perspective, the Ohio Constitution was rewritten by a Constitutional Convention in 1851. The new proposed constitution was approved by the voters with 53.46% voting YES. In 1912, the Ohio Constitution was again rewritten, and this time the new constitution was approved by the voters in a “landslide,” with 57.5% voting YES.

It’s pretty clear that if Issue 1 were part of the constitution in 1851, Ohio would still be saddled with the original 1804 version that was recognized as so flawed it needed, not just an amendment, but a complete rewrite — not just once, but twice in the first 108 years of the state’s existence.

The fact is that the supporters of Issue 1 are interested in only one thing: To prevent a simple majority of voters from ever successfully amending the Ohio Constitution again. This will set in stone minority-rule in Ohio for generations to come, if not forever.

And their campaign is being funded — not by Ohioans — but by the owners of Uline Corp. of Chicago, Ill. When was the last time Ohioans had to bow toward Chicago before making political decisions that would have important influence on our daily lives?

Get to the polls and vote NO on Issue 1. Early voting has already begun.

Frank Gwirtz
Parkman Township

Ohio Issue 1 

I’ve been reading editorials regarding state Issue 1 on the August ballot. The arguments for the issue present it as if it were a Pro-Life issue. I see it as a good governance issue that should get bipartisan support.

Folks are saying our Constitution is for sale. Just look at the Ohio Constitution and you see it’s true. It’s lumbered with poorly written amendments that distribute benefits to very specific people and entities. That’s because it’s too easy to amend our Constitution.

That’s how we got an amendment that legalizes casino gambling by creating a casino gambling monopoly in Ohio. That’s why, a year later, we had to amend the Constitution to change the address of one of the monopoly holders. That’s how we banned gerrymandering with an amendment so poorly drafted we’ll be litigating its meaning forever.

I was on the board of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce (OCC) in the late 90s and the early 00s. We had a committee that studied the Ohio Constitution after Florida passed an amendment in 2006 to make it more difficult to amend theirs. We found the amendment process in Ohio was one of the easiest in the US. Back then, if you had $5 million you could get a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution on the ballot by initiative petition. Depending on the issue, if you timed it right, you could get your amendment passed in a low turn-out primary election with a simple majority.

The Ohio legislature legalized medical marijuana to preempt an initiative petition drive that would have created a medical marijuana monopoly, left employers without liability protections, created no safety constraints, and put Ohio law in conflict with federal law at many levels. During that petition drive, the OCC interviewed proponents and opponents of legalization. We met with the entrepreneurs that financed the petition drive and would ultimately hold the monopoly. It was astonishing how brazen they were. As a result of our investigation, we pleaded with the leaders in the legislature to preempt the petition drive and pass a bill that would protect Ohioans.

As it stands, our Constitution doesn’t protect us from out-of-state interest groups initiating a petition drive. There’s nothing to prevent well-endowed national interest groups from pouring money into support of the subsequent campaign to pass the amendment. There’s little to protect Ohio from seeing our Constitution attacked by every new cultural or political wave that washes in.

The Framers of the US Constitution wisely set the bar for amendment high. While they loved democracy, they feared mob rule. Let’s follow their lead. On Aug. 8, vote “YES” on Issue 1.

Thomas C. Pitrone