Voter Rights Groups Question Differing Ballot Access in Ohio

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Voting rights groups are taking issue with a proposal in Ohio to set a higher bar for citizens than for state lawmakers when it comes to getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

Changes proposed by the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission would require a 55-percent supermajority vote of the Legislature to get a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment before voters. Amendments brought by legislators would require just 50-percent-plus-one.

In testimony before the commission Thursday, Ohio activists and representatives of national groups called that a double standard.

The founder and chairman of the University of Southern California’s Initiative and Referendum Institute says there’s no historical precedent for such a discrepancy.

M. Dane Waters says enacting such a change would make Ohio “a lonely outlier both in this country and around the world.”