Ohio voters have overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to raise the threshold for ballot initiatives to 60 percent of votes, which would have paved the way for minority rule in the state.
Decision Desk HQ, an election results reporting agency, called the race around 8:12 p.m. And the results are not even close: With about 33 percent of the votes in, the “no” vote on the amendment is leading by a 30-point margin.
Abortion is currently legal in Ohio until about 22 weeks, although not for lack of GOP efforts after Roe v. Wade was overturned. The November amendment would allow people to decide for themselves about all reproductive health. The state could only restrict abortion access after a doctor determines the fetus is viable, or could survive outside the uterus. And even then, abortions can be performed if the patient’s health or life is at risk.
In response, Republicans tried to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments to a 60 percent vote, instead of a simple majority. If they had prevailed, the new threshold would mean that just 40 percent of Ohio would have to vote against a measure, such as abortion, to reject it, allowing the minority of state residents to have the final say.
And when it comes to abortion, blocking reproductive rights is in fact a minority opinion. A USA Today Network/Suffolk University poll released two weeks ago found that 58 percent of Ohioans support enshrining abortion rights, while just 32 percent oppose it. The support crosses party lines, with a third of Republicans backing the amendment, as well as 85 percent of independent women—a crucial voter demographic.
Now that voters blocked raising the threshold, it will require only a simple majority to amend the state constitution to include abortion rights. But the issue of using abortion rights as a proxy for wars on democracy remains.
Ohio is not the first state to use abortion regulations as a way to circumvent the will of the people. In Kansas, after state residents overwhelmingly voted to keep abortion protections in the constitution, Republicans moved to implement laws that would still restrict access to the procedure.