YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Early voting for a special August election has begun in Ohio, and there are some things you may want to know before heading out to the polls.

What is Issue 1 in Ohio?

Issue 1, the sole issue on the special August 8 ballot, is known as a ballot initiative.

If passed, it would make it harder for voters to change the Consitution of the State of Ohio. This is because any newly proposed constitutional amendment placed on a statewide ballot would require at least a 60% approval vote to pass. Currently, only a majority vote (50% plus one) is needed.

The issue would also require that any initiative petition filed on or after January 1, 2024, proposing an amendment must be signed by at least 5% of the electors of each county based on the total vote in the county of the last gubernatorial election. This means petitioners must collect signatures from all 88 counties, instead of 44, which is the current rule.

It also specifies that additional signatures may not be added to an initiative petition once it’s been filed. Currently, there is a 10-day cure period that allows citizens to replace or correct signatures that were deemed faulty.

When and where can I vote on Issue 1?

A special election is being held on August 8. However, early voting has already begun. Below are locations where you can vote early by county:

  • Mahoning County: Mahoning County Board of Elections, 345 Oak Hill Ave., Youngstown, Ohio 44502
  • Trumbull County: Trumbull County Board of Election, 2947 Youngstown Rd. SE, Warren, Ohio 44484
  • Columbiana County: Columbiana County Board of Elections, 7989 Dickey Dr. Ste 3, Lisbon, OH 44432

Below are the hours for early voting in Ohio:

  • July 11-28, from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday
  • July 31, 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • August 1, 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
  • August 2-4, 7:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • August 5, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • August 6, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Absentee voting and mail-in voting are also available. The date to have your mailed absentee ballots postmarked is Monday, August 7. The deadline to return your completed vote-by-mail ballot application is to have it in by Tuesday, August 1 by 8:30 p.m. The deadline to return your voted ballot to the Board of Elections is by Tuesday, August 8 before 7:30 p.m.

Why some people support Issue 1

According to the Issue 1 report by the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, Representative
Brian Stewart (R) and Senator Rob McColley (R) have prepared a “vote yes” argument.

They argue that voting yes for Issue 1 will “empower the people and protect the constitution.”

Below are their three points on why a voter should vote yes:

  • Elevating the standard. By raising the threshold for constitutional amendments to 60%, the People will ensure amendments have widespread support and tell special interests that our Constitution is not up for grabs. This will protect Ohio’s Constitution similar to the way the U.S. Constitution has been protected since our country’s founding.
  • Empowering people across Ohio. By requiring signatures from voters in every county, special interests will no longer be able to cherry-pick where they gather signatures. Instead, starting January 1, 2024, a diverse and representative population of Ohioans will determine whether proposed amendments appear on the ballot.
  • Eliminating second bites at the apple. By restricting do-overs on signature submissions, starting January 1, 2024, special interests will have one chance to play by the rules when gathering signatures to place proposed amendments on the ballot.

Why other people oppose Issue 1

Senators Paula Hicks-Hudson (D) and Vernon Sykes (D) and Representatives Dontavius Jarrells (D), Bride Rose Sweeney (D) and Dani Isaacsohn (D) have prepared an argument on why voters should vote no on Issue 1.

“This amendment would destroy citizen-driven ballot initiatives as we know them, upending our right to make decisions that directly impact our lives. It takes away our freedom by undermining the sacred principle of ‘one person, one vote’ and destroys majority rule in Ohio,” it states.

Below are the main points of their argument:

  • Issue 1 Ends Majority Rule: It means just 40% of voters can block any issue, putting 40% of voters in charge of decision-making for the majority.
  • Issue 1 Shreds Our Constitution: It would permanently undo constitutional protections that have been in place for over 100 years to check politicians’ power at the ballot box.
  • Issue 1 Takes Away Our Freedom: It would destroy citizen-driven ballot initiatives as we know them, guaranteeing that only wealthy special interests could advance changes to our constitution.
  • Issue 1 Applies to All Issues: If this amendment passes, it will apply to every single amendment on any issue Ohioans will ever vote on – you name it, just 40% of voters will decide.

Early voting on Issue One ended yesterday. Polls will be open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. In order to vote you will need a valid form of photo ID when you head to the polls.