President Biden, Ohio Secretary of State issue differing reactions to Issue 1 defeat

11:55 p.m. update:

Reactions are coming in from across the political spectrum to Ohio voters on Tuesday rejecting Issue 1, a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would have made future amendments more difficult to pass.

President Biden issued the following statement: “Today, Ohio voters rejected an effort by Republican lawmakers and special interests to change the state’s constitutional amendment process. This measure was a blatant attempt to weaken voters’ voices and further erode the freedom of women to make their own health care decisions. Ohioans spoke loud and clear, and tonight democracy won.”

On the other side of the debate is Ohio Secretary of State and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Frank LaRose. His statement reads: “I’m grateful that nearly 1.3 million Ohioans stood with us in this fight, but this is only one battle in a long war. Unfortunately, we were dramatically outspent by dark money billionaires from California to New York, and the giant ‘for sale’ sign still hangs on Ohio’s constitution. Ohioans will see the devastating impact of this vote soon enough. The radical activists that opposed Issue 1 are already planning amendments to shut parents out of a child’s life-altering medical procedure, force job killing wage mandates on small businesses, prevent law abiding citizens from protecting their families and remove critical protections for our first responders. I’ve said for months now that there’s an assault coming on our constitution, and that hasn’t changed. I’m just getting started in the fight to protect Ohio’s values.”

Read more reaction here: Issue 1 reaction: ‘Question worth asking’ or ‘tremendous overreach’?

What today’s vote means for the upcoming abortion vote: Issue 1 solidly rejected; what does that mean for November abortion vote?

10:40 p.m. update:

Officials with the campaign backing Issue 1 have conceded that election results show their proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution is unlikely to pass. The Associated Press has declared the issue defeated as the current tally stands at 56.6% of voters opposed to it and 43.4% in support with 8,010 of 8,885 precincts counted.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman addressed reporters at an event in Columbus and estimated that the “Yes” campaign will fail by eight to 10 percentage points.


“I think it’s a question that was worth asking of the voters,” Huffman said, referencing the abortion-rights amendment this November and various other initiatives that he foresees using an amendment process to become law in Ohio.

Huffman, who co-chaired the Protect Our Constitution campaign with Rep. Jim Hoops, R-Napoleon, said the campaign didn’t have enough time to educate and sway voters. Both sides had about 90 days to do so after the legislature moved Issue 1 to the ballot and scheduled the Aug. 8 election.

Huffman also assessed that his campaign was hurt by Republican former officials who opposed Issue 1.

“There were some key folks on our side of the aisle, Republicans especially, who actively opposed this, some pretty vociferously, and then there were key Republicans who simply didn’t support it, who should have been doing so,” Huffman said.

Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Mohamed Al-Hamdani gathered Tuesday with other “Vote No” supporters, including Dayton Mayor Jeff Mims, City Commissioner Matt Joseph and county Auditor Karl Keith, to watch results.

“In the short term, it means a lot for the ballot issue – women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose is going to be on the ballot in November in the state of Ohio. This was a very important vote for us,” Al-Hamdani said, thanking volunteers and campaign organizers for lots of work.

“This was a tremendous overreach by the legislature to take the power away from the people,” he continued. “… I think everyday Ohioans sent a strong message that despite the Republicans winning the last few elections, that they still want Ohio to remain a civil and open state where everyday Ohioans have a voice.”

9:00 p.m. update:

Ohio voters on Tuesday rejected a Republican-backed measure that would have made it more difficult to change the state’s constitution, setting up a fall campaign that will become the nation’s latest referendum on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned nationwide protections last year, according to the Associated Press.


The defeat of Issue 1 keeps in place a simple majority threshold for passing future constitutional amendments. It would have raised that to a 60% supermajority, which supporters said would protect the state’s foundational document from outside interest groups.

While abortion was not directly on the special election ballot, the result marks the latest setback for Republicans in a conservative-leaning state who favor imposing tough restrictions on the procedure. Ohio Republicans placed the question on the summer ballot in hopes of undercutting a citizen initiative voters will decide in November that seeks to enshrine abortion rights in the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

8:45 p.m. update:

The Ohio Democratic Party and Ohio’s Democratic U.S. Senator are declaring Issue 1 defeated as several outlets and analysts project a loss, though votes are still being counted.

Outlets that have called the election include 270 to Win and Decision Desk HQ. The Dayton Daily News is not calling the race as 942 of 8,885 statewide precincts have been counted as of 8:45 p.m. With 942,997 votes counted, Issue 1 is being rejected 64% to 36%.

“Ohioans saw this amendment for what it was: a power grab by powerful people designed to silence their voices,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown wrote in a statement at 8:32 p.m. “By rejecting State Issue 1, Ohioans rejected special interests and demanded that democracy remain where it belongs – in the hands of voters, not the rich and powerful. That is what has always guided me and I am proud to stand with Ohioans in this fight.”

The “Yes” campaign has said there is no update as to when their campaign will provide comment to the press.

8 p.m. update:

The “No” side’s margin has dwindled slightly since initial returns were posted but maintains a steady lead. With 668,065 votes reported, results show Issue 1 being rejected by a ratio of 70% to 30%.

Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst with the University of Virginia, said the early returns were encouraging for the “No” side, but any such results will not be conclusive until there’s a complete sense of how Election Day voters trended.

The two campaigns are each hosting watch parties in downtown Columbus. A Dayton Daily News reporter is at the “Yes” side’s event, hosted by Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima. Press has been sectioned off in an adjacent room from the party and is awaiting comment from the Protect Our Constitution campaign.

7:44 p.m. update:

The “No” side has the early lead in today’s special election to decide Ohio Issue 1 after early absentee vote results started being released by state election officials after polls closed Tuesday.

Early returns, posted briefly after polls closed at 7:30 p.m., show Issue 1 being rejected by a ratio of 75% to 25%.


Early returns tend to lean toward Democrats (the “no” vote in this case), as Democrats have generally been more likely to vote early than Republicans, who typically have stronger turnouts on Election Day. Early and absentee votes this August outnumbered total votes in last year’s August election.

The returns are the first glimpses Ohio has into how the rest of Election Day might unfold in a historic and unique single-issue August special election. The outcome could have a significant and long-lasting impact on Ohio politics and policy.

If Issue 1 is approved, it would make it much harder for citizen groups to put proposed Constitutional amendments on the ballot in the future. It would also change the bar (from 50% +1 to 60%) for the November abortion rights amendment to pass.

Issue 1 has three components. The first component would change the percentage of votes needed to pass proposed amendments, which can come from the legislature or the citizenry. Currently, a simple majority of Ohio voters decides whether a proposed amendment passes; Issue 1 would change that to 60%.

The second component would change what it takes for citizens to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Currently, citizens are required to hit a specific quota in at least 44 of the state’s 88 counties to get a proposal on the ballot; Issue 1 would raise that to all 88 counties.

Finally, the third component would eliminate the “cure period,” which gives petitioners 10 days to collect more signatures if the state’s verification process finds that there weren’t enough valid signatures to meet the aforementioned quotas.

This report will be updated as more official returns are posted.

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