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Early voting for Aug. 8 special election draws long lines at Franklin County Board of Elections

 People wait in line outside the Franklin County Board of Elections to early vote.
George Shillcock
A line of about 50 people waited to early vote in the Aug. 8 election on Issue 1 on Tuesday, July 11, 2023. The ballot questions asks voters whether or not it should be more difficult to pass a constitutional amendment in the state by raising the threshold to pass one to 60% of voters, up from 50%.

Danny Calhoun was one of several dozen voters lined up outside of the Franklin County Board of Elections on Morse Road Tuesday to vote early in the Aug. 8 special election.

Calhoun, a Westerville resident sporting a bright black and yellow New York Yankees baseball cap, said he would vote against Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that would make it harder to pass such amendments in the future. If passed, it would raise the threshold to pass an amendment to the Ohio Constitution from 50% plus one to 60% and require signatures from all 88 Ohio counties to get one on a ballot.

Calhoun said a likely constitutional amendment to enshrine a right to abortion access and reproductive healthcare in November is another reason he is voting no on Issue 1. He expressed frustration at the Ohio Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans, for putting this measure on the ballot.

"It's important to me that as citizens, that we're represented fair and correctly. And the idea that a few people can make decisions for the collective to me is just wrong," he said.

Calhoun said he was encouraged to see a large turnout in Franklin County. He is usually an early voter and it's only the second or third time he's stood in a line to vote early.

Related - Ohio voter guide: What to know about the August special election

Strong turnout was consistent in Franklin County at its single early voting location with lines out the door as early as 8 a.m., when early voting began through noon, when Calhoun was in line. The day before early voting began, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican who supports Issue 1, said he expected voter turnout for the special election to be low.

Several Franklin County Democratic-elected officials held a get-out-the-vote rally on Tuesday just outside the board of elections. The group stood outside the restricted boundary, in order to prevent campaigning and electioneering near voters.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, state Rep. Allison Russo and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce urged people to vote no during the rally.

"I think what you see with this crowd of people behind us and the line that we already see at the early vote center is that people are ready to have their voices heard and to vote no on this issue," Russo said.

Russo stood in line to vote following the rally.

Early voting ends on August 6.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.