DeWine isn't swayed by concerns expressed by elections officials over a possible August election
Ohio’s elections officials are coming out firmly against the idea of a statewide special election in August to consider a change to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments. But those arguments are not swaying Gov. Mike DeWine.
The Ohio Association of Elections Officials has formally opposed bills to create an August special election, saying it would be expensive, would have low turnout, and would be difficult to recruit poll workers. But DeWine, who has said he would sign the special election bill, said there’s no reason to think Ohio’s election officials can’t run an August election.
“I don’t have any doubt that we can run a good election in August. We’ve done it before," DeWine said.
DeWine’s stand on the August election bill comes after he signed a law in January that got rid of most August special elections. When a reporter asked about that situation, DeWine responded this way:
“Well it’s inconsistent with it," DeWine said.
In December, lawmakers who voted for the bill that got rid of most August elections said they were too expensive, noting the August 2022 legislative primary cost $20 million, and the 7.9% turnout was typical for an August special election. That primary was held after the Republican-dominated Ohio Redistricting Commission drew maps that were repeatedly ruled as unconstitutionally gerrymandered by the Ohio Supreme Court, and the case ended up in federal court, with a panel of judges ordering the August primary to go forward.
Republican lawmakers want an August election this year for a vote on a constitutional amendment to make it harder to pass future ones, like the one to legalize abortion that’s expected in November. The proposal would require 60% voter approval to pass a constitutional amendment. It would also require petitioners collect signatures from all 88 Ohio counties instead of the 44 now required. And it would do away with the cure period - the ten day window when petitioners can collect more signatures if they fall short of what is needed to put a constitutional amendment before voters.
Democrats have opposed the resolution, saying it would allow a minority of Ohioans to impose their will on the majority. They also said something as important as a constitutional change should not be decided in a low-turnout election.
Democrats are not alone in their opposition to the resolution. More than 250 groups have also come out against the plan and are vowing to fight it if lawmakers are able to pass it.
Right now, it's still unknown if lawmakers will be able to get the 59 or 60 votes needed by May 10 to put the issue before voters in August. And, of course, the lawmakers will still have to pass that bill that would establish an August primary.