One Person One Vote, an organization, has initiated a new Supreme Court case concerning an August amendment proposal aiming to make it harder to change Ohio’s constitution. The organization had previously challenged lawmakers’ attempt to include the question on the August special election ballot, as it would raise the amendment passage requirement from 50% to 60%. Now, their latest complaint pertains to the ballot language that voters will encounter.
According to the filing, the ballot board adopted a “misleading, prejudicial ballot title and inaccurate, incomplete ballot language” that violates Ohio’s Constitution and laws, as well as the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court. The plaintiffs are requesting the court to order revisions or substitute the full text of the amendment as the ballot language.
During a hearing, One Person One Vote’s attorney highlighted several criticisms of the proposed language. They pointed out that the drafts failed to mention existing constitutional standards, used positive terms like “elevate” to portray the changes favorably, and contained factual inaccuracies regarding signature gathering. However, the majority Republican board approved the language without any modifications along party lines.
In their complaint, One Person One Vote further elaborated on the shortcomings identified during the ballot board hearing. The primary concern revolved around the ballot language focusing solely on the end result, rather than explaining how the amendment alters existing law. This omission could mislead voters into thinking that Ohioans currently do not have the right to vote on proposed amendments and that the amendment itself establishes this right.
The amendment not only raises the passage threshold to 60% but also requires organizers to collect signatures from all 88 counties instead of the current requirement of 44. It also eliminates a cure period during which organizers can gather additional signatures if the initial submission falls short. One Person One Vote criticized the ballot language for not accurately explaining these provisions.
The plaintiffs are urging the court to instruct the board to develop new ballot language that fully and accurately describes the status quo, including the fact that it has been the standard since 1912. Alternatively, they propose that the board presents the full text of the proposed amendment to voters.
Additionally, they call on Secretary LaRose to create a new title that does not imply the current standards are inadequate, as the term “elevating” carries a prejudicial connotation. One Person One Vote argues that state law prohibits misleading ballot titles and language and cites the court’s case law, which establishes a three-part test to ensure transparency and validity.
When approached for comment, a spokesperson for Secretary LaRose declined, citing a policy of not commenting on ongoing litigation.