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Ohio special election results: Issue 1 fails

Hamilton County was the only Tri-State county to vote against the issue.
Issue 1 vote no
How Ohio voted
Posted at 8:57 PM, Aug 08, 2023

CINCINNATI — Ohio voters rejected Issue 1 during Tuesday's special election, meaning any requirements for proposed constitutional amendments will remain the same.

Issue 1 — the only thing on the ballot — would have made three changes:

  • Any proposed constitutional amendment would have required 60% of the vote to pass, rather than the 50%-plus-one votes currently required;
  • Any petition for a constitutional amendment filed on or after January 1, 2024, would have needed signatures from 5% of the voters from the last gubernatorial election in each Ohio county, rather than the current requirement of signatures from half of the state's counties and;
  • The 10-day period that allows invalid signatures to be replaced with new ones on citizen-led ballot initiatives for constitutional amendments would have been eliminated.

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Hamilton County was the only Tri-State county to vote against Issue 1, but did so in overwhelming numbers, contributing to the rejection of the issue in the state overall. More than 154,000 rejected the issue compared to around 77,000 who voted for it in Hamilton County.

Here's a breakdown of how Ohio voted:

How Ohio Voted .jpg
Counties in red voted against the issue.

The counties in red all voted against the issue, while all the counties you see in gray voted for the issue.

The major cities in the state including Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo and Dayton all voted against the issue.

And if you think your vote doesn't matter, think again. Voters in Clark County, near Dayton, rejected Issue 1 by a single vote.

SINGLE VOTE.PNG

Voters have been able to make their decision since mid-July, with many Tri-State counties reporting higher turnout during early voting for this election than the entire voting cycle of the 2022 special election.

While the measure mentioned nothing about reproductive rights, abortion was at the center of the election as Ohioians are expected to consider a constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to abortion during the next November election.

The difference between 50%-plus-one and 60% of the vote could have been the difference between the measure passing or failing. Of the six abortion-rights ballot measures to have been held since Roe was struck down, four — those in Kentucky, Montana, Michigan, and Missouri — have passed with between 52-59% of the vote. Only Vermont and California's measures passed with more than 60%.

Because of its importance in the national debate over abortion, millions upon millions have been spent by both sides of the issue. Protect Our Constitution was the main group campaigning for Issue 1 and lists several groups — including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Restaurant Association and Ohio Right to Life — that supported the measure.

Meanwhile, One Person, One Vote — the group campaigning against Issue 1 — listed groups like The League of Women Voters of Ohio, Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights and the Ohio Education Association as its supporters. Former governors and attorneys general from both parties also came out against it.

"We could really tell people were on our side and were angry about it, and frankly even having to vote on this," said Rachael Belz, CEO of Ohio Citizen Action. "Our side was so passionate, I think in part because of everything that has been happening in Ohio for the past few years."

Mike Gonidakis, from Ohio Right to Life, didn't concede the results Tuesday night on CNN, but said the special election was a battle worth fighting.

"We've been laser-focused on November since January — this was just step one in the process and we'll be ready to go come November," said Gonidakis.

He was also asked what this means when abortion is on the ballot in November.

"There are a lot of Republicans that are pro-life that may have voted no on this issue tonight that will be with us shoulder-to-shoulder come November," said Gonidakis.

David Niven, a University of Cincinnati political science professor, said he felt advocates of Issue 1 had a problem settling on a message.

"It's a hard sell when it looks like you're changing the game in the middle of the game," said Niven. "They were never consistent on that, they fumbled through whether or not this had anything to do with abortion or not whether they wanted to say it did or it didn't and ultimately Frank Larose's own words were used in a campaign ad."

President Joe Biden said late Tuesday the measure was "a blatant attempt to weaken voters' voices."

"Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won," said Biden.

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