In May, Ohio Republicans passed a measure that created an August 8 election, when constituents will decide whether to end the state’s citizens’ rights to amend their state constitution with a simple majority vote. The conservative proposal would increase the threshold from 50% to 60%, which would dramatically affect a practice that has existed for centuries.

Among other issues, changing the threshold would make it far more difficult for an abortion rights amendment, which was just approved to appear on the November ballot, to pass.

When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, Ohio Republicans passed a law to ban most abortions in the state, which is still pending review. Abortion rights groups responded with campaigns to amend the state constitution and got the green light in March to start collecting signatures for a referendum.

Ohio Republican officials have painted their proposal as an effort to protect citizens from out-of-state special interests – pro-choice activists have viewed this argument very skeptically.

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GOP views on abortion restriction have proven to be out of touch with mainstream beliefs, even in historically red states. A poll conducted by Baldwin Wallace University in October found that 59% of Ohioans supported a constitutional amendment that would make abortion access a fundamental right. The vote would be enough to pass with a simple majority but falls just below the 60% threshold that Republicans are looking to implement.

August elections typically see lower turnout with only 5% to 10% of voters showing up. Both sides of the aisle are gearing up to promote the race, in hopes that the significance of the fight will draw more constituents.

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