Supporters and opponents of Ohio’s Issue 1 start last minute push for early voting
Ohioans have just three more days to vote early, in person or by mail, before Election Day on Aug. 8. Both political parties have been pushing their voters to weigh in early on Issue 1, the change that could make it harder to pass future constitutional amendments.
Opponents of Issue 1 packed a Columbus union hall for a rally Thursday night. The event included chanting, singing, balloons, lots of swag, and an appearance by a prominent Ohio Republican.
Former auditor and attorney general Betty Montgomery has been involved in Republican politics for decades but when it comes to Issue 1, she's breaking ranks.
"It removes the checks and balances that we need in the use of power," Montgomery told the audience. "We've got you folks, the general public, the voters who can make certain and hold elected officials accountable."
Montgomery said she understands many in her party want to pass Issue 1 because of concerns over the upcoming November constitutional amendment that could enshrine abortion into the constitution, or the threat of another redistricting reform amendment in the future. But she said taking shortcuts like this isn't a good idea.
And Montgomery said since Republicans hold all three branches of state government, passage of this proposal, which would raise the threshold for passage of future constitutional amendments to 60% instead of the current 50% plus one could lead to corruption.
"Whether it's Democrats in control or Republicans in control and quite frankly, I lived under Democrats being in control for many years, the world will turn. And we want to have a good government in our constitution," Montgomery said.
Earlier in the week, the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County held a rally in Brecksville that featured Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and northeast Ohio businessman Bernie Moreno, one of LaRose's opponents in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. Both Moreno and LaRose have urged voters to approve Issue 1, saying it is needed to protect the constitution.
Issue 1 backers have also been talking about the proposed constitutional change in many churches. And a "Get Out the Vote Prayer Rally" set to feature an actor from the movie "The Sound of Freedom" is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Cincinnati.
Both sides are airing ads on Ohio's airwaves right now. More than $21 million has been spent on radio and TV ads, with half of that in the week before Aug. 8.
The push for early voting
Typically on election nights, the first absentee returns skew toward Democratic candidates and issues. But the Ohio Republican Party’s Dan Lusheck said recent efforts to change that are working.
“This election, people are certainly open on our side to going and voting early and we will see that continue to grow,” Luscheck said.
Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters says canvassers working to defeat Issue 1 said it’s the best experience they’ve ever had.
“75-80% of the households we are talking to are stringent ‘no’ voters,” Walters said.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office reports more than double the number of people who voted early at the same point in last May’s U.S. Senate primary have already voted in this Aug. 8 election. And that's about five times higher than the number who voted early in last August’s legislative primary. Around 9% of Ohio’s registered voters cast ballots last August, after a panel of federal judges put in place Republican-drawn legislative maps that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled were unconstitutionally gerrymandered.