COLUMBUS, Ohio — Early voting has begun for the August special election with only one question on the ballot.

However, state Issue 1 is important, and could affect the outcome of the abortion rights question that’s potentially scheduled to be on November’s ballot.

What You Need To Know

  • State Issue 1 will change the threshold to get a citizen-led initiative on a ballot from a simple majority of 50% plus one to 60%

  • Constitutional experts say State Issue 1 would not affect the marijuana language on the November ballot 

  • State Issue 1 would make it tougher to add the abortion rights amendment to the November ballot

State Issue 1 will change the process of how citizen-led initiatives can amend Ohio’s constitution. It could change the future of Ohio’s constitution, forcing citizen-led constitutional amendments to get a 60% vote instead of a simple majority. 

 “If Issue 1 is approved on August 8th, it would apply to all future amendments,” said former state Representative Mike Curtin.

The Ohio constitution is a document that has been around for almost 200 years.

Curtin said it’s been through changes throughout the years. He said the simple majority requirement has been in place ever since 1912.

Curtin said this will create major historical changes. State Issue 1 would force citizen-led constitutional amendments to get 60% of the vote instead of just a simple majority.

“Until 1953, our constitution said that the Ohio National Guard was for white males only,” Curtin said. “Not until 1953 that Ohio voters approved an amendment to the constitution to allow black men to become members of the Ohio National Guard. And that passed with 58% of the vote. So with a 60% threshold, our constitution would still say that the Ohio National Guard is for white males only.”

The only other states requiring a 60% threshold are Illinois and Florida.

If Ohio joins them this summer, then that would make it tougher to add more abortion rights to Ohio’s constitution through an initiative that activists are trying to get on this November’s ballot. But, it would not affect what is needed to make marijuana legal on the same ballot.

“The marijuana proposal is not a constitutional amendment,” said Jonathan Entin, a professor of law at Case-Western University. “It is a proposed statute. Issue 1 doesn’t deal with initiatives for statutes, only popularly proposed constitutional amendments. So issue 1 won’t affect the requirements for the marijuana proposal, or even if the marijuana proposal winds up on the ballot.”

Steven Steinglass, dean emeritus at Cleveland State University’s College of Law, said it can be confusing because the constitutional initiative is one of two initiatives that Ohio voters approved in 1912.

“The other is the statutory initiative in which citizens may propose by petition a state statute,” Steinglass said. “That statutory initiative is not affected by Issue 1.”

However, Issue 1 does more than just change the threshold requirement. Starting next year, it would also affect how many signatures need to be collected to get an issue to the ballot.

In the end, Steinglass says it’s all up to voters to decide over the next few weeks.

“I think this is a kind of issue that will have to get resolved in a small democratic way by the voters,” Steinglass said. “The voters will either decide that for whatever reason they want to make it harder to amend the constitution or they want to leave things as they have been left since 1912 and continue the simple majority.”