The Republican-backed constitutional proposal would raise the approval bar for amendments from 50% to 60% of the vote, while also instituting more severe criteria for amendments to be placed on the ballot in the first place.
Polls show that just under 60% of voters support the abortion amendment, implying that Issue 1 might decide the outcome. Millions of money have been poured into the state by political groups on both sides of the abortion debate in preparation for the referendum.
The Republican-controlled legislature has planned Tuesday's election as the next statewide debate over abortion more than a year after the United States Supreme Court struck down a nationwide right.
Ballot initiatives have been effective instruments for abortion rights campaigners in areas where abortion opponents, mostly Republicans, control the legislature or the governorship.
Early voting in Ohio appeared to be unusually high for an August special election. According to the Ohio secretary of state's office, more than 575,000 early votes had been counted as of Friday, approaching the entire number of ballots cast in last year's August primary election for state legislative seats.
According to local news reports, there were long lineups at some polling places over the weekend.
Early voting in Ohio appeared to be unusually high for an August special election. As of Friday, the Ohio secretary of state's office said that more than 575,000 early votes had been cast, approaching the entire number of ballots cast in last year's August primary election for state legislative seats.
Long lineups were reported at some polling places over the weekend.
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN SPENDING
In 2019, Republican Governor Mike DeWine signed a six-week abortion ban into law, which took effect after the Supreme Court's judgment. The ban was put on hold in September after abortion clinics filed a legal challenge; the Ohio Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
Some opponents of Tuesday's vote question have underlined that the referendum goes beyond abortion, stating that limiting citizens' power is just undemocratic.
"This is much larger than one issue; it's much bigger than one party or one election," Jen Miller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, said. "This is about the freedom that Ohioans have had for more than a century."
Good governance organizations, for example, are working on a ballot proposal for 2024 that would modify the constitution to prohibit gerrymandering, the practice by which one party manipulates district lines to consolidate power. If Tuesday's referendum passes, getting that subject on the ballot will be far more difficult.
Last year, Ohio Republicans designed extremely partisan state legislative and congressional districts and refused court orders to revise them; the November elections were held using patterns deemed unlawful.
Opponents of abortion rights have labeled the November referendum as extreme, alleging that its ambiguous phrasing would allow minors to obtain abortions and gender-affirming surgery without parental agreement.
The amendment contains no mention of gender-affirming treatment or parental approval, according to supporters.
Outside spending on Tuesday's election has totaled millions of dollars, including from so-called "dark-money" groups that are not required to declare their contributors.
According to campaign documents, Illinois Republican mega-donor Richard Uihlein has contributed at least $4 million to the pro-Issue 1 campaign. Other groups supporting the vote on Tuesday have received funding from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and The Concord Fund, a conservative dark-money organization.
The Tides Foundation, a California-based social justice organization, and the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a leftist dark-money organisation, have backed the anti-Issue 1 campaign.