CLEVELAND — Giving Ohio voters not legislators the final say on abortion, that’s the goal of Ohio Democratic candidate for Governor Nan Whaley.
"It is time we take this issue directly to voters,” Whaley said Wednesday in calling for Ohioans to vote on a constitutional amendment.
"We want to make sure that Roe is codified period,” she said. “The majority of Ohio, 61% of Ohioans believe that Roe should be the law of the land, this isn't hard, we're not going to get complicated about it, we're going to do what the people want and take it directly to them."
The push by abortion rights advocates to ultimately put the question of abortion access before Ohio voters are one that on the surface sounds simple, after all, we see questions on our ballots all of the time. But a statewide question is a lot harder to make happen.
To place any question on the ballot you need the signatures of registered voters and not just a few.
"If it's a constitutional amendment that's the big one you need 443,000 signatures,” said News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin Wallace University. “That's a really steep climb."
That's why Whaley says they are looking at this to be a ballot question, not this year but next year 2023.
"We're in what June 30? For the November ballot to get those signatures there's no way that could be done by November."
That whole timing question is crucial, hot topic issues can drive people on both sides to the polls that can in turn impact the results of the top-of-the-ticket races. Case in point Sutton said was 2004 when Ohioans were voting on both the Bush-Kerry presidential election and a constitutional amendment question banning same-sex marriage.
"That ballot measure and Bush on the ballot increased the number of voters by 900,000 in Ohio and Bush won by 136,000,” he said.
And it was Ohio that decided the presidential race that year. That's why Sutton believes Democrats are wise to want this abortion amendment on a 2023 ballot, no later.
"Because it doesn't get wrapped up in the issues of the presidential campaign in 2024,” he said. “I think a 2024 ballot measure would more than likely benefit the Republican candidate than the Democratic candidate."