Ohio Senate passes measure to require 60% vote requirement to approve constitutional amendments

The Ohio State Senate passed an amendment that would raise the threshold for voters to approve ballot measures that would amend the Ohio Constitution.

The amendment passed the Senate by 26-7 on April 19, 2023, with all Republicans voting for the amendment and all Democrats voting against it. It needs to pass the Ohio House of Representatives to go to voters.

Currently in Ohio, a simple majority (50.01%) of votes is needed from voters to approve a constitutional amendment. The amendment would require a 60% majority of voters to approve a constitutional amendment.

Sen. Rob McColley (R), speaking in support of the amendment, said, “The constitution is not meant to be a policy document. The constitution is meant to inform us as to how the government is supposed to be run and to enshrine rights for all Ohioans.”

In opposition to the amendment, Sen. Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D) said, “At face value, this sounds pretty good. Who wouldn’t want to curtail the power of rogue politicians, of special interest groups? I think we could all agree we would certainly want to stop those kinds of nefarious activities from going on. But I still don’t believe, after listening to the debate, that this is the way forward.”

Sen. Kent Smith (D) said the supermajority requirement would have an effect on certain ballot measures, such as a potential constitutional amendment that may provide a state right regarding reproductive decisions.

Of the 49 states that require voter approval for constitutional amendments (Delaware does not require voter approval for constitutional amendments), 38 states require a simple majority vote while 11 states require a supermajority vote or other criteria that must be met for ratification. Illinois and Florida are two other states that require a 60% supermajority to approve constitutional amendments.

The amendment could go to voters on a special election on Aug. 8, 2023. The Ohio Senate also passed Senate Bill 92, which would make an August special election possible. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said that he would sign the bill if it passes the House. DeWine said, “If both houses approve this and that’s the way, the direction they want to go, I’m going to sign it. I think there is some advantage to have these matters over with.”

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) said that in order for the amendment to appear on the August ballot, both measures must pass the Ohio House of Representatives before May 10, 2023.

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