Ohio Attorney General Rejects Language For Expansive Voting Rights Amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last week, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost (R) rejected language for a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand voting rights in the state, claiming the title and summary were misleading. 

The Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) amendment, spearheaded by the Ohio NACCP, Ohio Unity Coalition, Ohio Organizing Collaborative and others, would overhaul voting rights in Ohio by allowing same-day voter registration during early voting and on Election Day, implementing automatic voter registration, permitting no-excuse mail-in voting for all Ohioans, allowing voters to vote without ID by signing a declaration attesting to their identity and more.

Yost rejected the petition’s summary, taking issue with multiple components. He wrote that the summary fails to fairly explain the different requirements for verifying a voter’s identity based on how they cast their ballot, pointing out that the process is not uniform across all methods of voting.

He further found that the summary “obfuscates the differing ways in which voter identification is to be verified” and “obscures the different requirements mandated for verifying voter identity.”

Yost claimed that the summary is also misleading due to the fact that it fails to properly describe the “specific types of entities” covered by the proposal and therefore “materially alters the scope of the amendment’s effect.” 

Yost also argued that the amendment’s title is “completely untethered” to the proposed election regulations and therefore does not fairly or truthfully summarize the proposal.

Ohio’s attorney general has a history of rejecting language for pro-voting measures. Last fall, he rejected a proposal to create an independent redistricting commission two separate times, claiming that the summaries were not fair and truthful representations of the proposed amendment.

The groups backing the proposal must now recollect 1,000 signatures and resubmit another proposal that addresses Yost’s concerns. If approved by Yost, the amendment would go to the Ohio Ballot Board to determine whether the proposed amendment addresses a singular issue.

Read Yost’s letter here.

Read the proposed amendment’s language here.