Ohio Early Voting surges in special election propelled by fall abortion battle

August 4, 2023

Early voting in this Tuesday’s special election in Ohio has been much higher than expected ahead of a fall referendum impacting abortion access in the state. 

The GOP-backed measure on Tuesday’s ballot would make it harder for Ohio voters to pass future constitutional amendments, including one on the November ballot to guarantee abortion rights.

Issue 1 in Tuesday’s election does not specifically deal with abortion, but it would erect several hurdles against voters passing amendments to Ohio’s state constitution, in part by raising the threshold to pass an amendment from a simple majority to 60%.

In the 2022 midterm elections, AP VoteCast found that 59% of Ohio voters said abortion should be legal in most or all cases, just shy of that 60% mark.

Early voting began July 11, and according to reports, it has been off the charts. Already some 533,000 Ohioans had voted by this Wednesday, nearly twice the 288,700 in the May 2022 primary, and more than three times the 142,000 early ballots cast in last year’s August elections in Ohio. 

“You know, we’re thinking it’s going to be busy all the way up to the end,” said Brian Sleeth, Director of Warren County in southwest Ohio.

Not just pro-abortion rights Democrats but Republicans have also been pushing early voting in Ohio. The state GOP has increased efforts surrounding early voting education and encouraging their base to vote ahead of election day on August 8.

“We have a slogan. It’s OK to vote that way,” said Ohio GOP chair Alex Triantafilou. 

Even so, there are still early voting skeptics among Republicans after some party leaders, including former President Trump, spent years pushing unsubstantiated allegations that fraud is more likely during early voting. 

All Ohio county boards of election will be open for early voting from 7:30am to 7:30pm on Friday while Saturday hours will be 8am to 4pm.

On Sunday, there will be early voting from 1pm to 5pm. On Monday polling places across Ohio will be closed ahead of the Tuesday special election.

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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