For Immediate Release: August 2, 2011
Contact: Dale Butland, 614-783-5833
Referenda History Proves “No” Means “No”
Columbus: Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank headquartered in Columbus, said today that a review of ballot referenda history “clearly shows that S.B. 5 ballot language should be written to reflect that a ‘no’ vote means a vote to repeal the law, while a ‘yes’ vote means a vote to uphold the law.”
IO’s review comes in advance of tomorrow’s meeting of the state Ballot Board at which language for the November vote on SB 5 and other referenda reportedly will be hammered out. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted chairs the Board.
According to IO’s review, and the history of ballot initiatives compiled by the Secretary of State’s Office entitled “Amendment and Legislation; Proposed Constitutional Amendments, Initiated Legislation, And Laws Challenged By Referendum,” Ohio’s constitution was amended on September 3, 1912 to permit ballot initiatives and referenda. Since that time, twelve (12) referenda have been held on laws passed by the General Assembly and in all 12 cases, the ballot language specified that a “no” vote was a vote to repeal the legislation in question. Of the 12 referenda submitted to the voters, 10 measures were rejected by the voting public, while only 2 were upheld.
Said IO President Janetta King:
“When it comes to referenda ballot language, Ohio history could not be clearer. In every single instance where a law passed by the General Assembly was submitted to the voters for approval or rejection, those wishing to repeal the legislation voted ‘no’, while those desiring to uphold the legislation voted ‘yes.’
“In fact, even the introduction to the document produced by the Secretary of State’s office on these initiatives, which was last updated in August, 2010, indicates three separate times that if a ‘majority votes against the law’ it is ‘dead’ and ‘does not go into effect.’ Conversely, ‘if the majority votes for it, it goes into effect’ (emphasis supplied). As most people understand the English language, one votes ‘against’ something by voting no, and votes ‘for’ something by voting yes.
“With polls consistently showing that the vast majority of Ohioans oppose SB 5, Gov. Kasich and his allies apparently believe their only shot at winning lies in confusing the voters. But Secretary of State Husted has already rejected their transparent scheme to break the law into multiple parts and we’re confident that he will again do the right thing, uphold tradition, consistency and common sense, and employ the same ballot language standard that Ohio has used for 100 years.
“Voters deserve better than trickery, sleight of hand, and political game-playing. They are entitled to a straight-forward, up or down vote this November. And we’re confident Secretary Husted will act impartially and give it to them.”