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Ohio's top court rules some language for Issue 1 must be rewritten before August election

OGT/Ohio Channel

In a decision that gave a victory to opponents and a win to supporters, the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled the state Ballot Board must rewrite some of the language that will appear as Issue 1 on the August special election ballot.

The court ordered the Ballot Board to reconvene "forthwith" to adopt language correcting an error in language for the amendment, which would make it harder to pass future constitutional changes. The Ballot Board, which includes three Republicans and two Democrats, will meet Tuesday afternoon.

The Ohio Supreme Court decision said the language voters will see on the ballot on August 8 regarding how many petition signatures need to be collected in each county needs to be corrected.

The current language said signatures are required from 5% of all electors in all 88 counties. But the court noted it should state 5% of all voters who participated in the last gubernatorial elections in those counties. The Ballot Board admitted this error in briefs it filed with the court.

The decision directed Secretary of State Frank LaRose to redo the title, which currently says changes apply to "any" amendment, when the signature requirement and elimination of a 10-day period to gather more signatures would apply only to citizen-initiated proposals.

The coalition of unions and groups known as One Person, One Vote, which brought this lawsuit, said in a statement it's glad the court "saw through the deception and ordered changes."

One Person, One Vote spokesman Dennis Willard said the fight to reject the issue continues. Read the full statement here.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose's spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement: "Our goal in approving the ballot language for Issue 1 was to make it as clear and concise as possible. The court has ordered us to put a more complex explanation on the ballot, which we know can often lead to voter confusion, but we'll follow the court's directive."

One Person, One Vote has also filed another lawsuit, asking the court to stop the August election, claiming it was illegally established. That suit was filed before the one challenging the Ballot Board language, but the court hasn't ruled on it. This ruling suggests the court might allow the election to move forward.

More information will be added to this story as it becomes available.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.
Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.