An amendment that would require a 60% majority from voters to approve constitutional amendments will appear on the ballot in Ohio on Aug. 8, 2023.
The Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio State Senate both voted on May 10, 2023, to send the measure to the ballot. The House voted 62-37 to pass the amendment, and the Senate voted 26-7. The measure was introduced as Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR 2).
SJR 2 also contained a provision providing for a special election to be held on Aug. 8 for voters to approve the amendment. Sen. Kent Smith (D) said the supermajority requirement would have an effect on certain ballot measures, such as a potential constitutional amendment that would provide a state right regarding abortion.
Currently, a simple majority (50.01%) of votes is needed from voters to approve a constitutional amendment in Ohio. The amendment would require a 60% majority of voters to approve a constitutional amendment.
The Save Our Constitution committee is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. Supporters of the amendment include Ohio Right to Life, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses in Ohio, the Ohio Restaurant Association, and the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association.
Speaking in support of the amendment, Rep. Brian Stewart (R) said, “Ohio’s constitution has become far too susceptible to outside groups. It is time for reform. Putting this issue in front of Ohioans, that is Democratic.”
The One Person, One Vote committee is leading the campaign opposing the initiative. Opponents include former Ohio governors Bob Taft (R), John Kasich (R), Dick Celeste (D) and Ted Strickland (D); former Ohio attorney generals Betty Montgomery (R), Jim Petro (R), Richard Cordray (D), Lee Fisher (D), and Nancy Rogers (D); the ACLU of Ohio; the Ohio AFL-CIO; and Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.
In an open letter, the former attorney generals in opposition to the amendment said, “Constitutions are designed to endure, and major changes in fundamental constitutional arrangements should not be made unless the changes are supported by a careful understanding of the policies being changed and the consequences of the proposed changes. Such changes should not be made without the opportunity for participation of those most intimately affected by the constitution — the people. Clearly, that has not happened in this rush to revise our constitution.”
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. Right now, there are also proposals in Arizona and Missouri to place supermajority requirement amendments on the ballot—a proposal in Arizona that would require a 60% voting majority, and a proposal in Missouri would require a 57% voting majority—may go to voters in 2024.
This amendment is the first statewide measure certified for the Ohio ballot in 2023.