To the Editor:
Although I am a Bowling Green City Council member, I am not writing this letter in that capacity. I do not think it appropriate to use my position on Council to suggest how citizens should vote on non-local issues.
However, I will draw on my local government experience, public policy graduate degrees, and American government college teaching experience to briefly discuss a few points about State Issue 1.
First, let’s quickly dispense with a few arguments that are, basically, distracting. Weak arguments in favor of Issue 1 include the belief that passage will keep outside interests from influencing a future Ohio Constitution. It’s difficult to say what will happen; it could decrease, but, it could actually increase the flow of outside money.
Arguments against Issue 1 include: (1) “one person-one vote”—the term actually pertains primarily to redistricting (e.g., equal population in congressional districts) not super-majority votes and (2) it “shreds” the Constitution—the U.S. Constitution actually supports Issue 1 since it has multiple cases requiring a super majority (for example Article V’s Constitution amendment process).
So, what are the main arguments? I am going to concentrate on one. When we look at the process for amending the U.S. Constitution, we see that it was designed to have a high bar for change. As another example, the League of Women Voters’ Bylaws require a two-thirds (not just 60%) vote for amending its Bylaws (Article XV, https://www.lwv.org/league-management/bylaws/lwvus-bylaws-and-certificate-incorporation).
There are two main reasons for a super-majority requirement. First, having a higher threshold would keep more trivial, non-Constitution related amendments out of our already hefty Ohio Constitution.
The second reason is what excites me about Issue 1. We have all seen growth of unhealthy extremism and resulting decrease of discourse in our society. We can lessen its impact by passing State Issue 1. If we increase the threshold for amendments to pass, then extreme amendments will be far less likely to be proposed. In order to garner the necessary 60% for approval, amendments would be more likely to go through a process that involves genuine dialogue, moderation, and compromise.
I do hope that this overview has been helpful. Please feel free to reach out to discuss in more detail.
William J. Herald