The Ohio Supreme Court has sided with a coalition that’s pushing a voting rights amendment for this fall’s ballot. The justices rejected a decision made by majority Republicans on the state ballot board to split the amendment into four parts.
The court voted 6-1 that the proposed amendment from Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections to require 28 days of early voting, automatic voter registration at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, and same-day registration and voting will be a single issue.
Majority Republicans on the Ballot Board had voted to split the issue into four parts:
- Casting a ballot
- Voter registration
- Rights for voters with disabilities
- Required post-election audit
Each part would require a separate petition, which would need 442,958 valid signatures. That would mean the group would need to collect 1,771,832 valid signatures to put all four parts of the amendment before voters this fall.
Don McTigue with the voting rights groups said last month’s ballot board decision to split the amendment quadrupled the cost of getting it to the ballot.
“It becomes cost prohibitive, and this is how strategically you reduced the opportunity for the citizens of Ohio to be able to vote on expanding their voting rights," McTigue said after that Ballot Board meeting in March.
But the justices denied the ACLU and other members of the group more time to gather nearly 443,000 valid signatures by the July 1 filing deadline.
The group said in a statement it's pleased that it's now a single issue again, but that "we face the impossible challenge of meeting the state’s requirement to collect hundreds of thousands of petition signatures in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic."
It said it will file a lawsuit. That's the same tactic that a group gathering signatures to raise the minimum wage has done.