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Ohio Announces New Ballot Issue Signature Requirements

Ohio I Voted Stickers
John Minchillo
Associated Press

Ohio's elections chief has announced new signature requirements for statewide ballot issues. The numbers of signatures now required are based on total voter turnout for the governor's race in the November 2018 election.

Under the changes announced Wednesday, a constitutional amendment will require 442,958 signatures, or 10 percent of total votes cast for governor. Until the November election, 305,591 signatures were needed to get a consitutional admendment on the ballot.  

"That's a really big chance," says Catherine Turcer of Ohio Citizen Action. "And, in fact, it will be much harder for citizen groups to put reforms before voters."

A referendum will require 265,774 signatures, or 6 percent of total votes cast for governor.

A proposal for a new law will first require 132,887 signatures, or 3 percent of votes cast, to be submitted to lawmakers for consideration. An additional 132,887 signatures will be required to place the proposed statute on the ballot should lawmakers not approve it.

Statewide ballot issue committees must follow the new requirements through the 2022 gubernatorial general election.

Some state lawmakers still want to make the process for proposing constitutional amendments tougher. State Rep. Niraj Antani (R-Miamisburg) says just raising the signature threshold isn't enough.

"The increased signatures at the end of the day really doesn't help the cause, because you can always pay more people for more signatures," Antani says.

Legislative leaders agreed, and were giving attention to a proposal restricting the process, but didn't take action during the lame-duck session. Antani says that this year, he'll introduce another measure to increase ballot access requirements.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.