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Ohio voters resoundingly rejected a proposed change to the state's constitution

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

First, we hear yesterday's election results from Ohio. A majority in that state voted in favor of their role in a democracy. The state legislature chose the month of August to hold an election on changing the state constitution to make it much harder for voters to change. Republicans made this effort to lock in their preference on abortion rights, but a big majority said no. Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles reports.

JO INGLES, BYLINE: Opponents of the measure cheered as results came in.

(CHEERING)

INGLES: Dennis Willard, leader of the opposition group One Person One Vote, said the people's power has been preserved.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DENNIS WILLARD: Tonight is a major victory for democracy in Ohio. The majority still rules in Ohio.

INGLES: Well over half of the state's voters voted no on the measure, which would have required 60% voter approval rather than a simple majority for changes to the constitution. The controversial issue led to greater-than-expected voter turnout.

LIZ WALTERS: What we're seeing in these margins is that the entire thing was offensive to voters.

INGLES: Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters described the proposed amendment as a power grab by the state GOP.

WALTERS: We are telling out-of-touch corrupt politicians in the statehouse that we will not go back and we will not give up our power.

INGLES: For their part, the Republican lawmakers who pushed for this special election blame their loss on the timing, even though it was their decision. They say they are now turning all of their attention toward defeating the constitutional amendment on abortion this November. Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, was disappointed with the election result. But he says he has high hopes things will go his way in November, when the amendment to enshrine abortion into the constitution is on the ballot, along with a possible law to legalize marijuana.

MIKE GONIDAKIS: They'll come home. Look, when you have weed and you have abortion on the ballot in November, we're going to solidify our conservative base here in Ohio and vote no on both of them this November.

INGLES: That upcoming fight over the abortion amendment is expected to be one of the most expensive campaigns, if not the most expensive, in Ohio's history.

For NPR News, I'm Jo Ingles in Columbus. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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