(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today rejected the petition for the proposed “Ohio Voters Bill of Rights” because the summary of the petition was not “a fair and truthful statement of the measure to be referred.”
On February 4th
, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received a written petition from a group called Ohioans for a Voters Bill of Rights to amend the Ohio Constitution via the “Ohio Voters Bill of Rights.” Attorney General DeWine’s letter rejected the summary because it contained at least two misrepresentations regarding issues where the Ohio Constitution is preempted by federal law.
First, the summary contains language explaining amendment provisions regarding how an elector may verify his or her identity by providing certain forms of identification, including “any other current form of identification issued to the person by…a public or private institution of higher education.” However, federal law requires specific forms of identification for first time voters who registered by mail to vote and have never voted in a federal election. In general, college IDs are not among the valid forms of identification for such voters. The language of the amendment combined with the omission of any reference to this federal preemption makes the summary misleading.
Second, the summary alleges that currently, pursuant to Section 1, Article V of the Ohio Constitution, “any elector who fails to vote for 4 consecutive years ceases to be an elector unless he again registers to vote.” However, federal law passed in 1993 supersedes this provision and provides for a different process. The summary thus makes a misleading representation of current law affecting Ohio voters.
"For these reasons, I am unable to certify the summary as a fair and truthful statement of the proposed amendment,” DeWine stated in his letter rejecting the petition. “However, I must caution that this letter is not intended to represent an exhaustive list of all defects in the submitted summary.”
In order for a constitutional amendment to proceed, an initial petition containing summary language of the amendment and 1,000 signatures from Ohio registered voters must be submitted to the Ohio Attorney General. Once the summary language and initial signatures are certified, the Ohio Ballot Board would determine if the amendment contains a single issue or multiple issues. The petitioners must then collect signatures for each issue from registered voters in each of 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, equal to 5 percent of the total vote cast in the county for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. Total signatures collected statewide must also equal 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election.
The full text of today’s letter and of the initiative petitions submitted can be found at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/BallotInitiatives
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840