Light Wave

U.S. News

Ohio Abortion Rights at Stake in Key Tuesday Vote

By Jake Beardslee · August 5, 2023

In brief…

  • Ohio will hold a special election Tuesday on a GOP-backed measure to require 60% voter approval on future abortion rights ballot initiatives. Only a simple majority is currently needed.
  • Democrats urged voters to reject the measure - called "Issue 1" - arguing Republicans deliberately scheduled the August vote when turnout is lower in order to improve chances of passage.
  • Several top Republicans oppose measure, calling it undemocratic.
  • A separate November vote on enshrining abortion rights in constitution will proceed regardless of Tuesday's outcome.
Ohio Democrats have urged voters to reject a Republican-backed ballot measure that would make it more difficult to protect abortion rights in the future.  Becker1999/Wikimedia

Ohio voters will decide the Tuesday the fate of a Republican-backed ballot measure that would make it more difficult to amend the state’s constitution regarding abortion rights. The measure, called “State Issue 1,” comes a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating federal abortion protections and turning the abortion issue back to the states.

Ohio Democrats have urged voters to reject the measure, which would require 60% voter approval - rather than a simple majority - on any future ballot initiatives regarding abortion rights.

“We hope that they [reject the measure]. And that’s why we’ve been spending so much time gathering our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues and letting them know that Issue 1 is really a ballot initiative that is going to take away constitutional rights, is going to take away freedoms from Ohio,” Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Ohio) told MSNBC.

Democrats argue Republicans specifically scheduled the special election in August - when turnout is typically low - in order to boost their chances of passing the amendment.

“They reinstated August elections just for this very issue. So we know what’s happening. They are trying to trick voters. But Ohio voters are smarter than this,” said Sykes.

Several top Republicans, including former Ohio Attorney General Betty Montgomery, have also spoken out against Issue 1, arguing it is undemocratic.

Sykes said there are “coalitions across broad spectrums who are just concerned about the fact that extremists want to take away the right of the people of this state to talk to their government - to say, ‘We are not happy to provide that very necessary check.’”

While Tuesday’s vote will not immediately impact abortion rights, Sykes contends it is meant to silence the people of Ohio. She called on voters to reject the measure in order to “protect our rights.”

“We’re going to vote ‘No’ in August and ‘Yes’ in November to enshrine our rights to abortion, access, and reproductive care,” she declared.

Ohio voters will decide this November on a separate ballot initiative that would enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution. That vote will proceed regardless of Tuesday’s outcome.