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Lawsuit filed against Atty. Gen. Yost by group seeking amendment to change election laws

Voters cast ballots at the Franklin County early voting center in Columbus the weekend before the election in 2018.
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Voters cast ballots at the Franklin County early voting center in Columbus the weekend before the election in 2018.

A group that wants to put election law changes—including repealing some of them— before voters in November is suing Attorney General Dave Yost on the Ohio Supreme Court over the constitutional amendment they want before voters this fall.

The suit contends that Yost is overstepping his authority by refusing to allow the petition summary language to move forward, based on the amendment’s title. Yost rejected language for the second time last week.

Deidra Reese, voter engagement director with the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, the group behind the proposed amendment, said Yost turned back the submitted language.

But Reese said Yost doesn’t have the authority to reject ballot summary language based on the title of it - The Ohio Voters Bill of Rights.

“He didn’t even look at the summary language this time. He determined that the title was incorrect saying that this was the ‘Voter Bill of Rights’, he thought was not accurate,” Reese said.

“We just felt we could not let it go with him taking an authority that he does not actually have,” Reese said.

Reese’s group is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to order to step in and force the AG to certify the petition. And the group is asking the court to expedite the case.

In his letter rejecting the second submission of the proposed summary last week, Yost said the “misleading and misrepresentative title of the amendment is sufficient on its own to reject the petition.”

Yost’s office hasn’t commented on the newly filed lawsuit. And at this point, the group hasn’t submitted language for the third time.

The proposed amendment would allow same-day voter registration in Ohio, expand rights to early in-person voting, and set up no-excuse absentee voting. It would allow more than one ballot drop box per person and would allow the use of photo IDs issued by educational institutions including universities.

Backers of the referendum said they will continue to fight to get the petition language certified and once it’s approved, will collect the nearly 414,000 valid signatures needed by July 3 to get the measure before voters this fall.

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.