Ohio Ballot History—Our Constitutional Right Since 1912

“I protest against any theory that would make of the constitution a means of thwarting instead of securing the absolute right of the people to rule themselves.”– President Theodore Roosevelt at Ohio’s 1912 Constitutional Convention

“The people of Ohio participated directly in making their constitution, and it cannot be amended without their consent.” – Arthur A. Schwartz, Former Director of the Ohio Legislative Reference Bureau

1851  A new Ohio Constitution was submitted to a vote of the people on June 17, 1851. Having been approved by 53.46% of Ohio voters, the new constitution went into effect on September 1, 1851, superseding Ohio’s original constitution which had been adopted in 1802.

1910  In an era defined by rapid change caused by industrialization, immigration, and urbanization, “Progressivism” gained popularity across the nation in an attempt to rid politics of corruption and inefficiency. Believing that the 1851 state constitution was outdated, Ohio voters approved the calling of a constitutional convention. 

1912  The constitutional convention began meeting in January 1912. Convention delegates wrote 41 amendments, which were submitted to Ohioans at the general election in November 1912. Voters approved thirty-three of the amendments and rejected eight others. Ohioans embraced the initiative and referendum by a landslide – 57.5% of the vote. The approved amendments reflected many Progressive reforms of the era to check the power of corrupt Statehouse politicians. Prominent proponent Teddy Roosevelt gave a stirring speech at the Convention. Other amendments granted the power to pass legislation that regulated working conditions in factories, set an eight-hour day for public works employees, and create a mandatory workmen’s compensation system. Municipal home rule, and direct primary elections were also approved.

1926  This was the first and only time the state legislature referred a measure to the ballot for an August special election. This failed measure would have authorized municipalities to levy taxes to pay for public improvements.

1974  The Ohio Ballot Measure Language Amendment, also known as Amendment 3, was on the May 7, 1974 ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure provided rules for the drafting and public notice of ballot language on constitutional amendments.

1978  The Ohio Ballot Language and Petition Requirements Amendment, also known as Amendment 1, was on the June 6, 1978 ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure required the Ohio Ballot Board to write the language for all ballot issues. The measure also limited proposal advertising and changed requirements for initiative petitions to reflect those of candidate petitions. 

2015  The Ohio Initiated Monopolies Amendment, also known as Issue 2, was on the November 3, 2015 ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved by 51.33% of voters. The measure aims to protect the Ohio Constitution from corporate interests and requires the Ballot Board to determine if a proposed constitutional amendment violates prohibitions on granting “a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel for their exclusive financial benefit or to establish a preferential tax status.”  It also requires that if the Ballot Board determines that a proposal violates the prohibitions, a question is put before the voters to approve the monopoly, as well as the proposed issue.