Issues 2, 3, 4 and 5, billed as ”Reform Ohio Now,” were defeated by voters across the state by a large margin, with an average defeat of 2-1 for the proposed amendments.
Little noticed by much of the media was the margin by which these initiatives were defeated in Lucas County. ”No” votes on all four measures ranged between 54 percent and 60 percent in Lucas County.
”This was particularly surprising given the large number of Democratic voters in the county,” said Doug Haynam, outgoing GOP interim chairman. ”It is clear that people took the time to weigh these initiatives on their own merits.”
Haynam also attributed the success of the local anti-RON initiative to grassroots efforts.
”Without the phone bank volunteers and others who got the word out, we would not have achieved these results,” he said.
One of the most important figures in the movement to defeat the RON initiatives was Alexandra Hertel, who ran the local phone bank operation.
”This campaign was much less like typical political phone efforts,” she said. ”We did not so much try to advertise as much as we did educate the voters.”
Hertel said recipients of the calls were more courteous than in candidate campaigns, and she believes ballot initiatives inspire less political polarization than do human candidates.
The local anti-RON campaign, according to Hertel, more than 40 regular volunteers.
”We had people from all walks of life who were committed to defeating these initiatives,” she said. ”Many volunteers also used their own cellphones to call everyone they knew and talk to them about the need to defeat these amendments.”
Hertel said she believes the grassroots efforts made the difference. Hertel said the Internet also was an important tool.
”Boards like ToledoTalk.com proved to be an effective means to spark discussion and inform undecided voters,” she said. ”On local-oriented blogs and Web sites, people are less intimidated to ask questions and debate the issues.”
One of the most common reasons cited for the defeat of Issues 2-5 involves the overly wordy nature of the proposed amendments. Lucas County Commissioner Maggie Thurber said the authors of the initiatives erred in creating text that some voters struggled to understand.
Thurber said many local voters were put off by perceptions that out-of-state money funded the Reform Ohio Now initiatives.
”Ohio First was funded almost entirely by citizens of Ohio,” she said of the leading anti-RON coalition. ”Reform Ohio Now had many out-of-state contributors, and local voters felt that RON was being directed by out-of-state people who wanted to use Ohio for other political ends, like the 2008 election.”