by Marc Kovac | Capital Bureau Chief
Columbus -- Both statewide issues failed by big margins Nov. 6, with voters voicing their opposition to holding a constitutional convention or adopting a new way to draw congressional and legislative district lines.
With more than half of the ballots counted, Issue 1 was failing 31 percent to 69 percent (about 1 million in favor and 2.3 million against). Issue 2 was opposed, 36 percent to 64 percent (1.2 million in favor and 2 million against).
The totals are unofficial results; the final canvass will not be completed until later this month.
Ohio Republican Party Chairman claimed victory over Issue 2 early in the evening, and Voters First, the group backing the issue, conceded not too long thereafter. The Ohio GOP actively campaigned against the redistricting amendment.
"Ohioans were right to reject Issue 2," Gov. John Kasich said in a released statement. "While our current system is not perfect, it ensures that the interests of Ohioans are represented by officials who are elected by and accountable to the public. Reforms need to be considered in a thoughtful, bipartisan way to ensure that districts are competitive and fair and Ohioans' interests are fully represented."
Of the two statewide issues, the second received most of the public and campaign attention, with groups urging voters to support or reject a constitutional amendment creating a citizens commission to redrawn congressional and legislative district lines.
Proponents believed it would take the politicians out of the process and result in maps that more closely resembled the political makeup of the state. Opponents countered that it was a flawed plan that would cost millions to implement.
Catherine Turcer, a spokeswoman for the group that backed the issue, said a lack of understanding of the issue combined with a well-funded campaign against the proposal likely led to its failure.
"We had a huge educational hurdle to just get voters to understand that this really impact their elections, but ultimately it impacts government," she said. "... When you take on the powers that be, they may just smack you down, and that's what happened. They spent a lot of energy and a lot of money supporting the status quo and fighting what could be really good change."
Turcer said she hoped voters who supported Issue 2 and opponents who want to seek changes in Ohio's redistricting process would continue to push for changes.
"If we all agree that the system is broken, we should also agree that the people of Ohio should not have to wait until 2022 to fix it," she said in a released statement. "It's time to put voters first and come together to agree on a solution."
There were no active campaign efforts related to Issue 1, which asked voters whether the state should play host to a constitutional convention.
The issue is placed on the ballot every 20 years and has never been approved by voters. State lawmakers earlier this year created their own commission to study the constitution and recommend changes, which would also require voter approval.
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. E-mail him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.