Ohio Voters Sue Over Proposed Constitutional Amendment Ballot Language
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, May 23, a group of Ohio voters and the group One Person One Vote filed a petition in the Ohio Supreme Court against the Ohio Ballot Board and Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) challenging the adopted ballot language for Senate Joint Resolution 2, a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would increase the threshold to pass constitutional amendments from 50% to 60%.
The proposed amendment also imposes new requirements on petitions for citizen-led amendments, including eliminating a 10 day “cure” period where citizens could file supplemental signatures if the state determined that there was a deficiency once the petition was submitted. The proposed amendment also doubles the number of counties where signatures must be collected from. The petitioners allege that the defendants used “inaccurate” language for the proposed amendment that “improperly and misleadingly” favors the proposed amendment. In turn, they claim that the language violates the Ohio Constitution and state law.
The petitioners argue that the adopted language (depicted below) does not explain that the current threshold to adopt an amendment is a simple majority of Ohio voters, claiming that this omission could result in a voter “reasonably assum[ing] that the Constitution does not presently require that constitutional amendments receive the approval of Ohio’s voters at all.” Additionally, the petitioners allege that the amendment’s title, “ELEVATING THE STANDARDS TO QUALIFY FOR AND TO PASS ANY CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT” is not “impartial and will create prejudice in favor of the Amendment.”
The petitioners ask the court to direct the Ohio Ballot Board and LaRose to reconvene and rewrite the language of the amendment and to order LaRose to create a new ballot title. The petitioners request that the language be updated to explain the current standards that the amendment would change — including the threshold for approval and petition signature requirements — and specify that voters are being asked to change a provision of the Ohio Constitution that has been in place since 1912.
This lawsuit is the second filed by One Person One Vote regarding S.J.R. 2. On May 12, the group filed a separate lawsuit asking the state Supreme Court to prohibit LaRose from holding a special election on Aug. 8, 2023 regarding S.J.R. 2, alleging that it is against state law to hold a statewide election in August.