So Last night Ohio voters approved amending the state's constitution. However, there is now a question about the exact wording to be added to that constitution:

  1. The petition signed by (approx) 500,000 Ohio voters to place this amendment on the ballot spelled out the exact language to be placed in the amendment.
  2. The actual ballot that was approved last night used different wording than the petition (the State board of Elections - 5 members ordered that change). That wording was approved by some 2 million voters.

So the question is: Will the language of the ballot be used for the amendment, or the language of the petition?

  • 1
    What possible scenario do you see that would motivate using the petition's contents in the constitution? Rather the content of the ballot that was voted for yesterday and was intended for just that purpose? A voter yesterday would have voted for the second text, and most likely (75% chance in fact) not the first. It would also help if you posted the exact contents of both, because I really fail to see the fuss justifiying this Q. I would also guess that the ballot has some verbiage in the line of "do you support adding this text to the state constitution?" Which you should also post. Nov 8, 2023 at 18:22
  • 3
    Hmmm, retracting my close vote for now. The petition is specific in what text they want in. The ballot only talks about the changes in general terms, not those I would expect to see in a constitution. And posting both would have made the reason for the Q hugely clearer. Nov 8, 2023 at 18:42

2 Answers 2


This is a false conflict.

The state Board of Elections changed the ballot title summarizing the amendment for the convenience of voters on the ballot itself from the ballot title summary proposed in the Petition. It didn't change the actual text of the constitutional amendment that was proposed in the Petition.

There is only one version of the actual language of the amendment. There is no ambiguity.

  • 1
    Now that I see the FULL text of the petition, it is very clear the language that must be inserted into the Ohio constitution, thanks. Some neighbors (anti Issue #1 voters) are arguing that the OH Supreme court gets to write the "official" constitutional language.. thereby delaying the implementation.
    – BobE
    Nov 8, 2023 at 20:35
  • 1
    The full text of the amendment voted on, together with the final ballot language and arguments and explanations For and Against, were circulated by the Ohio Secretary of State (with another issue on adult use of cannabis voted on at the same time) in ohiosos.gov/globalassets/elections/2023/gen/issuesreport.pdf
    – Henry
    Nov 8, 2023 at 21:25
  • 2
    The state board's "summary" was longer than the actually proposed constitutional amendment . and had to go through multiple versions because it was found in the Ohio Supreme court to mislead the voters on the purpose and effect of the proposed ammendment.
    – JMS
    Nov 9, 2023 at 14:12
  • @BobE That's more of a technicality where the person saying it is expressly admitting that they wish to defy the people and the clear meaning of the constitution through it. The courts will, by their function, determine the actual impact and de facto implementation of the amendment, and contested aspects may take months or years to resolve. And (conservative) state supreme courts seem to have lately had an arguable penchant for willfully defying the intent of those amendments and enabling legislatures to effectively neuter them, if not nullifying them entirely on some procedural technicality. Nov 10, 2023 at 12:43

The amendment language is part of the petition as is the language to appear on the ballot in Ohio. The ballot board has the option to rewrite the ballot language if the States Attorney General (chairman of the ballot board) or the ballot board find the petition ballot language "not a fair and truthful representation of the proposed amendment". Which in Ohio they did.


Ballot Initiative and Referendum Processes. Ohio Attorney General

Constitutional Amendments and Initiated Statutes If the petition is to initiate a constitutional amendment or statute, the full text of the initiative, the summary, and all signatures must be submitted to the Attorney General's Office. The Attorney General has 10 calendar days to conduct an examination to determine if the summary is a fair and truthful representation of the proposed amendment or statute. If the Attorney General determines the summary is fair and truthful, the Attorney General must certify the petition to the Ballot Board.

The full Ohio rule:

Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules:
Section 3519.01 | Initiative and referendum petitions.

The Controversy.

The controversy in the Ohio ballot Nov 2023 was not that the substance of the amendment contained in the petition was being modified, the controversy was whether the ballot language used by either side represented the intent, purpose, and effect of the proposed amendment to the voters. The petitioners believed the subsequent ballot board "summary" language prepared by the Ohio Secretary of State and agreed to by the majority of the ballot board was misleading. Not only was it longer than the proposed amendment, the ballot language the petitioners felt would mislead voters on:

    1. the right the amendment would create
    1. whom the amendment would restrict,
    1. whether the amendment would protect an individual’s right to continue a pregnancy,
    1. the scope of a treating physician’s discretion to determine “fetal viability,”
    1. how the amendment would limit regulation by the state.

Abortion rights amendment petition writers sue Ohio Ballot Board for “deceptive” summary

The Petitioners asked the Ohio Supreme court to:

  • 1 prescribe the amendment’s full text as the ballot language or
  • 2 direct the board to prescribe lawful ballot language.

On Sept 19, 2023 the Supreme Court of Ohio found the ballot language was misleading and ordered some of the objectionable text changed. They took the allegation point by point and ruled on each one and prescribed the final text of the ballot language


In the finalized text the petitioners got some but not all the requested changes requested.

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