Aug 7, 2023 - News

Abortion rights supporters, opponents ready for Ohio Issue 1 vote

Ohioans set to vote on Issue 1. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

You've driven by the yard signs and seen the TV ads. Now, the defining moment for Issue 1 is finally here.

Driving the news: Tuesday's special election centers on Issue 1, the lone statewide ballot item, which proposes raising the threshold to amend the Ohio Constitution to 60% of votes, up from a simple majority.

Why it matters: Supporters of Issue 1 want to make it more difficult for a proposed abortion rights amendment to pass in the state's Nov. 7 general election.

Catch up quick: In February, Ohio reproductive rights groups filed paperwork for an amendment that would enshrine abortion rights in the state's constitution.

The intrigue: Issue 1 could make all the difference.

  • A poll conducted by Suffolk University and USA Today last month showed that 58% of likely Ohio voters support an abortion rights amendment, comfortably above a simple majority but just below 60%.
  • Last year, voters in Kansas, Kentucky and Michigan voted to protect abortion rights by a simple majority, but none of them reached the 60% mark.

What they're saying: "We can't take anything for granted," Kellie Copeland, executive director for Pro-Choice Ohio, tells Axios.

  • "This is something of such historic consequence and it's happening at such an unexpected time for most voters. What we do to make sure everybody knows what's at stake is critical."

The other side: "The founders of our nation wisely put in place a 75% threshold for states to ratify (U.S.) constitutional amendments," Secretary of State Frank LaRose, one of the most vocal supporters of Issue 1, said while campaigning last month.

  • "I do know that to change the founding document of our state, you should build in a broader consensus — young and old, rich and poor, urban and rural, Republican and Democrat — and to get to that 60%, you have to do that."

What's next: Regardless of Tuesday's results, the proposed amendment for abortion rights will head to the ballot in November.

  • "If Issue 1 is to pass and we need to clear a higher threshold, we will do anything in our power to do that," Copeland says.

If you vote: Polls will be open Tuesday from 6:30am through 7:30pm.

Go deeper: Listen to the Axios Today podcast, where Niala Boodhoo and Troy Smith talk about what Issue 1 proposes in Ohio and the backstory behind it.


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