In Mount Vernon, Ohio, a yard sign against Issue 1 which would have made it harder to get voter initiatives on the ballot. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal)
Ohio voters have rejected state Issue 1, which sought to make it harder for voters to pass constitutional amendments, the Associated Press has projected.
The full counting of unofficial results is ongoing, but the AP has officially projected that the “No” side has won.
As of 9 p.m., 1,262,555 votes had been counted, and the No side was winning 60% to 40%.
Results will remain unofficial until they are certified by county boards of elections later this month. Issue 1 was the only question on the ballot Aug. 8.
Issue 1 proposed to raise the threshold for passing amendments to the Ohio Constitution from a simple majority of 50% plus one to 60%. It also proposed to require citizen amendment initiatives gather signatures from all 88 Ohio counties instead of the current 44, and sought to eliminate a 10-day curing period to correct invalidated signatures.
The controversial measure was first introduced by Republican Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and Ashville Republican state Rep. Brian Stewart late last year. After failing to place it on the May primary ballot, Ohio Republican lawmakers brought back a special August election for the proposal this summer, after eliminating most August elections with legislation in December 2022.
LaRose originally denied that the effort to make it more difficult for voters to pass constitutional amendments was tied to an abortion rights amendment proposal that will be considered by Ohio voters in November. However, in a letter to fellow Republican lawmakers shortly after introducing the proposal, Stewart said they should support the effort to stop both the abortion rights amendment as well as any further anti-gerrymandering reform voters might bring.
On May 22, LaRose told a Seneca County Republican Party dinner that Issue 1 was “100% about keeping a radical pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.”
LaRose campaigned vigorously to try to convince voters to pass the proposal, making campaign appearances with an anti-abortion lobbyist named Mike Gonidakis, and sharing a debate stage with Gonidakis on television to argue for the Yes side.
An opinion poll conducted in July showed 59% of Ohioans support placing abortion rights in the state constitution.
Issue 1 was opposed by a coalition of more than 240 bipartisan groups across Ohio, four bipartisan former governors, five bipartisan former attorneys general, the Libertarian Party of Ohio, the Ohio Green Party, the Ohio Forward Party, and a wide variety of union groups, as well as good-government groups such as the League of Women Voters of Ohio and Common Cause Ohio.
The Issue 1 amendment change was brought to the ballot with the votes of all 26 Ohio Senate Republicans including Senate President Matt Huffman, and 62 out of 67 Ohio House Republicans including House Speaker Jason Stephens.
Issue 1 was endorsed by LaRose as well as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, Attorney General Dave Yost, Ohio Auditor Keith Faber, Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague, Ohio U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, and groups including Ohio Right to Life, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Restaurant Association, the Ohio Farm Bureau, and the Center for Christian Virtue.
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