Ohio Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds 'Open Meetings Act'

Aug 14, 2019

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that government bodies cannot do public business with a secret ballot. 

In a unanimous decision, the state's highest court agreed with the operator of a community newspaper in a lawsuit against the village of Bratenahl in Cuyahoga County.  

Patricia Meade of MORE Bratenahl claimed the village council violated Ohio’s “Open Meetings Act” when it voted by secret ballot to elect a council member as the president pro tempore.

The village maintained that since the “Open Meetings Act” does not specify a certain voting procedure to follow, it could determine its own voting rules.

The Ohio Supreme Court disagreed, ruling the law requires that the public have meaningful access to all meetings of any public body, including vote-taking.

"An open meeting requires that the public have meaningful access to the deliberations that take place among members of the public body, and that includes being able to determine how participants vote,” wrote Justice Patrick Dewine in the opinion.