Ohio Voters Defeat Republican-Backed Issue 1

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Aug. 8, Ohio voters rejected a Republican-backed proposal that would have made it harder for voters to amend the Ohio constitution. The proposal, Issue 1, was defeated by a decisive vote in a controversial special election with 57% of voters rejecting the proposal. Only 43% of voters cast a ballot in support of Issue 1. This is a victory for democracy, Ohioians and reproductive rights.

The anti-democratic proposal would have required future constitutional amendments to receive 60% support from voters, as opposed to the 50% threshold that was, and now remains, in place. For future amendments, the proposal would have required that signatures be collected from at least 5% of Ohioans who voted in the last gubernatorial election from all 88 counties and would have eliminated a 10-day period for absentee ballot certification errors to be fixed. 

Ohio Republicans, including current Senate candidate and Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), had made it clear that Issue 1 was specifically put on the ballot to keep an abortion rights amendment out of the state constitution. Voters are deciding the fate of the amendment in November, and Issue 1 would have made its passage much more difficult. The proposal was also pushed by Republicans who had previously decried August special elections, describing them as overly expensive elections with low turnout that are bad for Ohio. 

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who campaigned against the measure and is up for reelection in 2024, said on social media: “By rejecting Issue 1, Ohioans… demanded that democracy remain where it belongs — in the hands of voters.”

Pro-voting groups in Ohio had sued to prevent the special election from taking place, alleging that it violated Ohio law, but the conservative state Supreme Court rejected the petitioners’ claims and allowed the election to take place. Nationwide, Republicans are increasingly trying to make it harder for voters to amend state constitutions through ballot measures.