(WKBN) – While the focus locally was on Tuesday’s election, at the statehouse in Columbus, the discussion lately has centered around the possibility of a special election in August. So, there’s a chance Tuesday’s voters will be back at the polls again on Aug. 8.
The Ohio Senate has already approved a special August election to decide if Ohioans favor requiring 60% of the vote to change Ohio’s Constitution. There was speculation the House would vote this week but on Tuesday, Speaker Jason Stephens delayed the vote until at least next week.
In the meantime, a Political Action Committee called Save Our Constitution is running TV ads urging State Representative Al Cutrona to vote for the special election and the 60%. It’s a decision Cutrona says he already supports.
The ad says, in part:
“The clock is ticking…”
“It’s time for State Representative Al Cutrona to stop the liberal takeover of Ohio and vote with conservatives…”
“We have less than a week to save Ohio’s Constitution…”
“I was surprised to see that considering I support fully the 60% threshold but also the August special election,” Cutrona said.
What the Republican supports is Senate Joint Resolution 2, which would require 60% of the vote to change the Ohio Constitution. Currently, it’s 50% plus one. It would also require petitioners to get signatures from all 88 Ohio counties instead of 44.
A separate bill would create an Aug. 8 election to vote, and Secretary of State Frank LaRose says he needs a decision by May 10.
Cutrona speculates he was singled out because ad time in the Youngstown media market is less expensive, and to raise awareness.
“It’s imperative that we alert the voters of what’s pending and what’s possibly coming,” Cutrona said.
“I’m definitely against both of those measures,” said Democratic State Representative Lauren McNally.
McNally says an August special election would cost $20 million and could be put on the November ballot for free.
“It’s a really hard pill to swallow at a time where we just went through the budget and saw all of the cuts that were made to the budget on services and programs that we could have funded with that $20 million,” McNally said.
The debate comes as petitions are circulating to place an amendment to expand abortion access in Ohio on the November ballot. McNally says that’s why conservative Republicans want the 60% threshold now.
“It’s been about the women’s reproductive rights ballot initiative,” McNally said.
“Ohio does not want late-term abortions,” Cutrona said.
It should also be noted that the Republican-led state legislature recently voted to eliminate August elections because of cost and low voter turnout.
“But I believe that a special election should be something that is special and that’s exactly what this is,” Cutrona said.
A number of former prominent Ohio political leaders have publicly opposed the 60% threshold. Among them are former Republican Governor Bob Taft and five former attorneys general — Democrats Richard Cordray and Lee Fisher, Republicans Betty Montgomery and James Petro, and Nancy Rogers.