Jul 14, 2023 - Politics

What you need to know about Issue 1

Data: Axios research; Graphic: Simran Parwani and Natalie Peeples/Axios
Data: Axios research; Graphic: Simran Parwani and Natalie Peeples/Axios

You've seen the ads, the signs and the social media debates — but how much do you really understand Issue 1?

  • Early voting is underway, so here's a primer before you head to the polls.

Catch up quick: Ohio is one of 18 states in which citizens can collect petition signatures to amend the state constitution through a public vote.

Why it matters: Successful constitutional amendments currently reflect the will of a majority of voters. Unlike other ballot initiatives, state lawmakers can't easily reverse them.

What's happening: If approved Aug. 8, Issue 1 would make it tougher to amend the Ohio Constitution by requiring 60% of voters' approval, up from a simple majority.

  • It would also make it harder to put amendments on the ballot in the first place.

Between the lines: Republican lawmakers placed Issue 1 on the ballot — after previously eliminating August elections — with an initial justification of protecting the constitution from out-of-state interests.

The intrigue: A 60% voter threshold is difficult, but not impossible, to meet.

  • Since 1913, 71 citizen-led amendments have made it to the ballot, according to the Dayton Daily News. Ohioans approved 19, with 11 passing by 60% or more.

Yes, but: Those amendments were not subject to two other changes that Issue 1 would also enact.

  • Organizers would need to obtain signatures from 5% of registered voters who cast ballots in the last gubernatorial election in all 88 counties — up from the current requirement of half the counties. Ohio would become the only state to require this, per Ballotpedia News.
  • Organizers would no longer receive a 10-day window to collect additional signatures, if the election officials deem too many invalid.

What's next: The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 8:30pm Aug. 1, either by completing this online form or calling your local board of elections. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Aug. 7.

  • Or vote early in person, 8am-5pm weekdays, at the Franklin County Board of Elections, 1700 Morse Road, with extended hours July 31-Aug. 6. (Absentee ballots can also be dropped off here before polls close on election day.)
  • Polls are open 6:30am-7:30pm on election day, Aug. 8. Find your voting location.

What we're watching: Over 10,000 Franklin County residents already requested absentee ballots as of Monday, board of elections spokesperson Aaron Sellers tells us.

  • Last year only 400 Franklin County voters requested an August absentee ballot and overall turnout was just 7%.
  • Other counties are also seeing spikes, Cleveland.com reports.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add details on Issue 1's signature threshold and its elimination of the 10-day window to collect more signatures.


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