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Ohio rewords constitutional amendment question on August ballot after court order

A state panel in Ohio voted on Tuesday to tweak language describing an upcoming statewide ballot proposal, while stopping short of making additional changes advanced by the opposition campaign, Democrats and voting rights advocates.

The Ohio Ballot Board’s party-line vote came a day after the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that its previous wording stood to mislead voters as they decide in August whether to make it tougher to amend the state’s constitution. Issue 1 calls for raising the threshold for passing future constitutional amendments in Ohio from a simple majority to 60%.

Statehouse Republicans created a special August election for taking up the issue, in hopes that a victory would thwart a November proposal to enshrine abortion access in the Ohio Constitution. Such proposals have passed with well over half the vote in other states, but under 60%.

OHIO SUPREME COURT ORDERS REWRITE OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT BALLOT LANGUAGE

Opponents again tried and failed to get LaRose to adjust the verb to something like “changing” or “modifying,” which they — and three dissenting justices — said would be more neutral. LaRose declined.

Summary language approved by the panel now explains that citizen-led amendment campaigns must gather signatures equivalent to 5% of the vote for governor, not of all electors, in “each county.”

It stops short of explaining that the amendment would double the number of counties where those signatures must be gathered, from the current 44 to all 88. The description also leaves out that Ohio would be amending a simple majority standard that has been in place since 1912, something opponents seek to highlight.

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