A newly released poll from Suffolk University, conducted for USA Today, shows wide support for a ballot measure that would amend the Ohio constitution to broadly guarantee reproductive freedom, including the right to an abortion, with 58% of respondents saying they'd favor such an amendment while just 32% are opposed. Like other abortion-related measures, the amendment garners considerable backing from Republicans, 32% of whom support it.
Abortion rights advocates submitted more than 710,000 signatures earlier this month to place their measure on the November ballot, well above the 413,000 required by law. Local election officials are currently reviewing those signatures, and Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose must announce whether the amendment has qualified on Tuesday.
LaRose has emerged as the most prominent opponent of the amendment, chiefly through his support of a separate amendment voters will weigh in on in just two weeks. That measure, known as Issue 1, would increase the threshold for passage for all future amendments from a simple majority to 60%, a move LaRose has openly stated is designed to thwart backers of abortion rights.
To date, foes of Issue 1 have outspent supporters by a wide margin, but the official group backing the amendment is finally launching its first TV ads of the race. Per cleveland.com's Andrew Tobias, Protect Our Constitution will spend $1 million over the next week on a spot that makes a questionable comparison between the process for amending the federal Constitution and that for the state constitution.
"Our founders developed the best governing document in human history: the U.S. Constitution" begins the narrator. "They knew to carefully set the minimum threshold for changes at 66%. But in Ohio, our constitution allows special interests to amend it with just a 50% vote. That's way too easy."
The two procedures, however, bear little resemblance: The former requires a two-thirds vote (which rounds to 67%, not 66) in both chambers of Congress while the latter needs a majority vote of the state's entire citizenry. In addition, federal amendments must also be ratified by three-quarters of the states. As state law expert Quinn Yeargain observes, no state has ever utilized a system for amending its own constitution similar to the one set out by the federal Constitution.
The ad also elides the fact that just placing an amendment on the ballot is a difficult undertaking in Ohio. As noted above, it takes more than 400,000 valid signatures to do so—the fourth-highest threshold in raw numbers among states that permit voters to initiate constitutional amendments, according to Ballotpedia. The spot concludes by urging voters to "set the bar at 60%," which makes it unusual, since all other TV advertising from Issue 1 supporters to date has avoided addressing the substance of the amendment.
A portion of the same Suffolk poll released late last week showed Issue 1 failing by a 59-26 margin. Supporters have not yet released any contrary data.
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