COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – In just over a week, voters across Ohio will cast their ballots in the state’s single-issue special election.

Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans have already voted on Issue 1, a proposal to raise the threshold for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments to make it on ballots and become law. On Aug. 8, hundreds of thousands more will answer the same question.

If passed, Issue 1 would require all future citizen-initiated amendments – as opposed to legislature-initiated amendments – to win at least 60% of the vote to pass instead of the simple majority currently needed.

To get an initiative on the ballot, groups would have to collect signatures from 5% of registered voters in all 88 Ohio counties, an increase from the current 44-county requirement. An existing 10-day curing period for groups who did not gather enough valid signatures would be eliminated.

Proponents of Issue 1, including Secretary of State Frank LaRose and statehouse Republicans, argue the proposal boosts protections for the state constitution, particularly against undue influence by special interest groups. 

Supporters contend that requiring 60% of Ohio voters to agree on an issue requires wide-reaching bipartisan approval – which should be a requisite to amend Ohio’s premier governing document. Requiring 5% of signatures from all 88 counties ensures broad support from across the state, Issue 1’s supporters have argued. 

In debates and in advertisements, supporters have warned to look no further for special interest influence than the abortion rights amendment Ohioans will decide on in November. LaRose said in June that Issue 1 is “100% about keeping a radical, pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.”

Opponents of Issue 1 decry it as a Republican power-grab designed to strip power away from citizens – and prevent them from enacting checks on the state legislature. House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) has repeated a common refrain among opponents that Issue 1 would end majority rule by allowing 41% of voters to strike down citizen-initiated amendments that 59% approve.

Other opponents have called the 88-county signature requirement the most extreme signature-gathering requirement among the 18 states that allow citizen-initiated amendments. If a group fails to get 5% of voters from one county, the proposal fails before it makes it to voters’ ballots – and unlike current law, they wouldn’t get another shot to make up the difference.

LaRose, Russo and policy experts on both sides debated Issue 1 at NBC4 on July 26. You can watch the debate here.

Voting by mail

Absentee ballot request forms must be delivered, either by mail or in person, to county boards of elections by 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 1. Print out an absentee ballot request form here.

Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked by Aug. 7 and have until Aug. 12 to arrive at boards of election. If dropping your ballot off in person, you have until 7:30 p.m. Aug. 8.

You do not need a photo ID to vote absentee.

Voting in person

Early in-person voting continues through Aug. 6 at county boards of elections:

  • July 31: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 1: 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 2-4: 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 5: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Aug. 6: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Anyone in line by 7:30 p.m. will be able to cast their ballots.

Polling locations have moved for more than 66,000 Franklin County voters due to usual voting places being unavailable. While notices will be sent to affected voters, the Franklin County Board of Elections recommends confirming your polling location by checking your voter record here or by calling 614-525-3100.

Ohio requires a form of photo identification to vote in person. Valid forms of photo ID include:

  • Ohio driver’s license
  • State of Ohio ID card
  • Interim ID form issued by the Ohio BMV
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • U.S. military ID card
  • Ohio National Guard ID card
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ID card