arrowSection 7.3 - Direct Democracy

This topic is monitored by Moritz Law Professor Dale A. Oesterle

Print Page

Relevant Ohio Revised Code Statutes

§ 3519.01. Certification of initiative or referendum proposal by attorney general and secretary of state.

(A) Whoever seeks to propose a law or constitutional amendment by initiative petition shall, by a written petition signed by one hundred qualified electors, submit the proposed law or constitutional amendment and a summary of it to the attorney general for examination. If in the opinion of the attorney general the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law or constitutional amendment, he shall so certify. A verified copy of the proposed law or constitutional amendment, together with the summary and the attorney general's certification, shall then be filed with the secretary of state.

(B) (1) Whoever seeks to file a referendum petition against any law, section, or item in any law shall, by a written petition signed by one hundred qualified electors, submit the measure to be referred and a summary of it to the secretary of state and, on the same day or within one business day before or after that day, submit a copy of the petition, measure, and summary to the attorney general.

(2) Not later than ten business days after receiving the petition, measure, and summary, the secretary of state shall do both of the following:

  1. Have the validity of the signatures on the petition verified;
  2. After comparing the text of the measure to be referred with the copy of the enrolled bill on file in his office containing the law, section, or item of law, determine whether the text is correct and, if it is, so certify.

(3) Not later than ten business days after receiving a copy of the petition, measure, and summary, the attorney general shall examine the summary and, if in his opinion the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the measure to be referred, so certify.

§ 3519.01. Certification of initiative or referendum proposal by attorney general and secretary of state. (Effective 5/2/06)

A) Only one proposal of law or constitutional amendment to be proposed by initiative petition shall be contained in an initiative petition to enable the voters to vote on that proposal separately. A petition shall include the text of any existing statute or constitutional provision that would be amended or repealed if the proposed law or constitutional amendment is adopted.


Whoever seeks to propose a law or constitutional amendment by initiative petition shall, by a written petition signed by one thousand qualified electors, submit the proposed law or constitutional amendment and a summary of it to the attorney general for examination. Within ten days after the receipt of the written petition and the summary of it, the attorney general shall conduct an examination of the summary. If, in the opinion of the attorney general, the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the proposed law or constitutional amendment, the attorney general shall so certify and then forward the submitted petition to the Ohio ballot board for its approval under division (A) of section 3505.062 of the Revised Code. If the Ohio ballot board returns the submitted petition to the attorney general with its certification as described in that division, the attorney general shall then file with the secretary of state a verified copy of the proposed law or constitutional amendment together with its summary and the attorney general's certification.


Whenever the Ohio ballot board divides an initiative petition into individual petitions containing only proposed law or constitutional amendment under division (A) of section 3505.062 of the Revised Code resulting in the need for the petitioners to resubmit to the attorney general appropriate summaries for each of the individual petitions arising from the board's division of the initiative petition, the attorney general shall review the resubmitted summaries, within ten days after their receipt, to determine if they are a fair and truthful statement of the respective proposed laws or constitutional amendments and, if so, certify them. These resubmissions shall contain no new explanations or arguments. Then, the attorney general shall file with the secretary of state a verified copy of each of the proposed laws or constitutional amendments together with their respective summaries and the attorney general's certification of each.


(B)

(1) Whoever seeks to file a referendum petition against any law, section, or item in any law shall, by a written petition signed by one thousand qualified electors, submit the measure to be referred and a summary of it to the secretary of state and, on the same day or within one business day before or after that day, submit a copy of the petition, measure, and summary to the attorney general.


(2) Not later than ten business days after receiving the petition, measure, and summary, the secretary of state shall do both of the following:


(a) Have the validity of the signatures on the petition verified;


(b) After comparing the text of the measure to be referred with the copy of the enrolled act on file in the secretary of state's office containing the law, section, or item of law, determine whether the text is correct and, if it is, so certify.


(3) Not later than ten business days after receiving a copy of the petition, measure, and summary, the attorney general shall examine the summary and, if in the attorney general's opinion the summary is a fair and truthful statement of the measure to be referred, so certify.


(C) Any person who is aggrieved by a certification decision under division (A) or (B) of this section may challenge the certification or failure to certify of the attorney general in the supreme court, which shall have exclusive, original jurisdiction in all challenges of those certification decisions.

§ 3519.02. Committee for petitioners.

The petitioners shall designate in any initiative, referendum, or supplementary petition and on each of the several parts of such petition a committee of not less than three nor more than five of their number who shall represent them in all matters relating to such petitions. Notice of all matters or proceedings pertaining to such petitions may be served on said committee, or any of them, either personally or by registered mail, or by leaving such notice at the usual place of residence of each of them.

§ 3519.03. Committee to prepare argument or explanation; preparation of missing arguments, explanations.

(A) The committee named in a initiative petition may prepare the argument or explanation, or both, in favor of the measure proposed, and the committee named in a referendum petition may prepare the argument or explanation, or both, against any law or section or item of law. The persons who prepare the argument or explanation, or both, in opposition to the initiated proposal, or the argument or explanation, or both, in favor of the measure to be referred shall be named by the general assembly, if it is in session, or by the governor, if the general assembly is not in session. Such argument or explanation, or both, shall not exceed three hundred words and shall be filed with the secretary of state at least seventy-five days prior to the date of the election at which the measure is to be voted upon.

(B) (1) If the committee named in an initiative petition, the committee named in a referendum petition, or other persons designated under division (A) of this section fail to prepare and file their arguments or explanations by the seventy-fifth day before the date of the election, the secretary of state shall notify the Ohio ballot board that those arguments or explanations have not been so prepared and filed. The board then shall prepare the missing arguments or explanations or designate a group of persons to prepare those arguments or explanations. All arguments or explanations prepared under this division shall be filed with the secretary of state no later than seventy days before the date of the election. No argument or explanation shall exceed three hundred words.

(2) If the Ohio ballot board fails to provide for the preparation of missing arguments or explanations under division (B)(1) of this section after being notified by the secretary of state that one or more arguments or explanations have not been timely prepared and filed, the positions of the four appointed members of the board shall be considered vacant, and new members shall be appointed in the manner provided for original appointments.

§ 3519.03. Committee to prepare argument or explanation; preparation of missing arguments, explanations. (Effective 5/2/06)

A) The committee named in a initiative petition may prepare the argument or explanation, or both, in favor of the measure proposed, and the committee named in a referendum petition may prepare the argument or explanation, or both, against any law or section or item of law. The persons who prepare the argument or explanation, or both, in opposition to the initiated proposal, or the argument or explanation, or both, in favor of the measure to be referred shall be named by the general assembly, if it is in session, or by the governor, if the general assembly is not in session. Such argument or explanation, or both, shall not exceed three hundred words and shall be filed with the secretary of state at least eighty days prior to the date of the election at which the measure is to be voted upon.


(B)

(1) If the committee named in an initiative petition, the committee named in a referendum petition, or other persons designated under division (A) of this section fail to prepare and file their arguments or explanations by the eightieth day before the date of the election, the secretary of state shall notify the Ohio ballot board that those arguments or explanations have not been so prepared and filed. The board then shall prepare the missing arguments or explanations or designate a group of persons to prepare those arguments or explanations. All arguments or explanations prepared under this division shall be filed with the secretary of state no later than seventy-five days before the date of the election. No argument or explanation shall exceed three hundred words.


(2) If the Ohio ballot board fails to provide for the preparation of missing arguments or explanations under division (B)(1) of this section after being notified by the secretary of state that one or more arguments or explanations have not been timely prepared and filed, the positions of the four appointed members of the board shall be considered vacant, and new members shall be appointed in the manner provided for original appointments.

§ 3519.04. Estimate of proposed annual expenditures and annual yield of proposed taxes.

Upon receipt of the verified copy of a proposed state law or constitutional amendment proposing the levy of any tax or involving a matter that will necessitate the expenditure of any funds of the state or any political subdivision of the state, the secretary of state shall request of the office of budget and management an estimate of any annual expenditure of public funds proposed and of the tax commissioner the annual yield of any proposed taxes. The office of budget and management, on receipt of a request for an estimate of the annual expenditure of public funds proposed, shall prepare the estimate and file it in the office of the secretary of state. The tax commissioner, on receipt of a request for an estimate of the annual yield of any proposed taxes, shall prepare the estimate and file it in the office of the secretary of state. The office of budget and management and the tax commissioner may issue a joint estimate if the proposed state law or constitutional amendment necessitates both the expenditure of public funds and a levy of any tax.

§ 3519.04. Estimate of proposed annual expenditures and annual yield of proposed taxes. (Effective 5/2/06)

Within two days after receipt, under division (A) of section 3519.01 of the Revised Code, of the verified copy of a proposed state law or constitutional amendment proposing the levy of any tax or involving a matter that will necessitate the expenditure of any funds of the state or any political subdivision of the state, the secretary of state shall request of the office of budget and management an estimate of any annual expenditure of public funds proposed and of the tax commissioner the annual yield of any proposed taxes. The office of budget and management, on receipt of a request for an estimate of the annual expenditure of public funds proposed, shall prepare the estimate and file it in the office of the secretary of state. The tax commissioner, on receipt of a request for an estimate of the annual yield of any proposed taxes, shall prepare the estimate and file it in the office of the secretary of state. The office of budget and management and the tax commissioner may issue a joint estimate if the proposed state law or constitutional amendment necessitates both the expenditure of public funds and a levy of any tax.


Upon receipt of an estimate of the annual expenditure of public funds proposed from the office of budget and management, an estimate of the annual yield of any proposed taxes from the tax commissioner, or a joint estimate of the annual expenditure of public funds proposed and the annual yield of any proposed taxes from the office of budget and management and the tax commissioner, the secretary of state shall post the estimate on a web site of the office of secretary of state for thirty days before the election at which the proposed state law or constitutional amendment will be voted upon.

§ 3519.05. Form of petition.

If the measure to be submitted proposes a constitutional amendment, the heading of each part of the petition shall be prepared in the following form, and printed in capital letters in type of the approximate size set forth:

INITIATIVE PETITION
Number .......................................................................
Issued to ....................................................................

(Name of solicitor)
Date of issuance .............................................................
..............................................................................

Amendment to the Constitution

Proposed by Initiative Petition

To be submitted directly to the electors
"Amendment" printed in fourteen-point boldface type shall precede the title, which shall be briefly expressed and printed in eight-point type. The summary shall then be set forth printed in ten-point type, and then shall follow the certification of the attorney general, under proper date, which shall also be printed in ten-point type. The petition shall then set forth the names and addresses of the committee of not less than three nor more than five to represent the petitioners in all matters relating to the petition or its circulation.
Immediately above the heading of the place for signatures on each part of the petition the following notice shall be printed in boldface type:

"NOTICE
Whoever knowingly signs this petition more than once, signs a name other than one's own, or signs when not a qualified voter, is liable to prosecution.
In consideration for services in soliciting signatures to this petition the solicitor has received or expects to
receive ......................................................................
from .........................................................................
(Whose address is) ........................................................."
..............................................................................
Before any elector signs the part-petition, the solicitor shall completely fill in the above blanks if the solicitor has received or will receive any consideration, and if the solicitor has not received and will not receive any consideration, the solicitor shall insert "nothing."
The heading of the place for signatures shall be substantially as follows:
"(Sign with ink or indelible pencil. Your name, residence, and date of signing must be given.) Rural Route or Month
other Post- Day
Signature County Township office address Year (Voters who do not live in a municipal corporation should fill in the information called for by headings printed above.)
(Voters who reside in municipal corporations should fill in the information called for by headings printed below.) Street Month
City or and Day
Signature County Village Number Ward Precinct Year" The text of the proposed amendment shall be printed in full, immediately following the place for signatures, and shall be prefaced by "Be it resolved by the people of the State of Ohio." Immediately following the text of the proposed amendment must appear the following form:

"I, ...................., declare under penalty of election falsification that I am the circulator of the foregoing petition paper containing the signatures of ........ electors, that the signatures appended hereto were made and appended in my presence on the date set opposite each respective name, and are the signatures of the persons whose names they purport to be, and that the electors signing this petition did so with knowledge of the contents of same.
(Signed) .................... (Solicitor)
(Address) ............
WHOEVER COMMITS ELECTION FALSIFICATION IS GUILTY OF A FELONY OF THE FIFTH DEGREE.
If the measure proposes a law, the heading of each part of the petition shall be prepared as follows:

INITIATIVE PETITION
Number ............
............
Issued to ............
............

(Name of Solicitor)
Date of issuance ............
............

Law proposed by initiative petition first to be submitted to the General Assembly."

In all other respects the form shall be as provided for the submission of a constitutional amendment, except that the text of the proposed law shall be prefaced by "Be it enacted by the people of the state of Ohio."

The form for a supplementary initiative petition shall be the same as that provided for an initiative petition, with the exception that "supplementary" shall precede "initiative" in the title thereof.

The general provisions set forth in this section relative to the form and order of an initiative petition shall be, so far as practical, applicable to a referendum petition, the heading of which shall be as follows:

"REFERENDUM PETITION
Number ...................................................................
..........................................................................
Issued to ................................................................
..........................................................................

(Name of Solicitor)
Date of issuance .........................................................
..........................................................................

To be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection"

The title, which follows the heading, shall contain a brief legislative history of the law, section, or item of law to be referred. The text of the law so referred shall be followed by the certification of the secretary of state, in accordance with division (B)(2)(b) of section 3519.01 of the Revised Code, that it has been compared with the copy of the enrolled act, on file in the secretary of state's office, containing such law, section, or item of law, and found to be correct.

§ 3519.05. Form of petition. (Effective 5/2/06)

If the measure to be submitted proposes a constitutional amendment, the heading of each part of the petition shall be prepared in the following form, and printed in capital letters in type of the approximate size set forth:


"INITIATIVE PETITION


Amendment to the Constitution
Proposed by Initiative Petition
To be submitted directly to the electors"


"Amendment" printed in fourteen-point boldface type shall precede the title, which shall be briefly expressed and printed in eight-point type. The summary shall then be set forth printed in ten-point type, and then shall follow the certification of the attorney general, under proper date, which shall also be printed in ten-point type. The petition shall then set forth the names and addresses of the committee of not less than three nor more than five to represent the petitioners in all matters relating to the petition or its circulation.


Immediately above the heading of the place for signatures on each part of the petition the following notice shall be printed in boldface type:


"NOTICE


Whoever knowingly signs this petition more than once; except as provided in section 3501.382 of the Revised Code, signs a name other than one's own on this petition; or signs this petition when not a qualified voter, is liable to prosecution.


The heading of the place for signatures shall be substantially as follows:
"(Sign with ink. Your name, residence, and date of signing must be given.)
 


----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Rural Route or                        
                                       other Post-                           
Signature     County     Township     office Address  Month     Day     Year
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

(Voters who do not live in a municipal corporation should fill in the information called for by headings printed above.)

(Voters who reside in municipal corporations should fill in the information called for by headings printed below.)
 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
                       City     Street                                   
                       or       and                                      
Signature     County  Village  Number  Ward  Precinct  Month  Day  Year"
------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
The text of the proposed amendment shall be printed in full, immediately following the place for signatures, and shall be prefaced by "Be it resolved by the people of the State of Ohio." Immediately following the text of the proposed amendment must appear the following form:
"I, ........., declare under penalty of election falsification that I am the circulator of the foregoing petition paper containing the signatures of ......... electors, that the signatures appended hereto were made and appended in my presence on the date set opposite each respective name, and are the signatures of the persons whose names they purport to be or of attorneys in fact acting pursuant to section 3501.382 of the Revised Code, and that the electors signing this petition did so with knowledge of the contents of same. I am employed to circulate this petition by ................................ (Name and address of employer). (The preceding sentence shall be completed as required by section 3501.38 of the Revised Code if the circulator is being employed to circulate the petition.)

(Signed) ...............

(Address of circulator's permanent residence in this state)

.......................
WHOEVER COMMITS ELECTION FALSIFICATION IS GUILTY OF A FELONY OF THE FIFTH DEGREE."


If the measure proposes a law, the heading of each part of the petition shall be prepared as follows:


"INITIATIVE PETITION


Law proposed by initiative petition first to be submitted to the General Assembly."
In all other respects, the form shall be as provided for the submission of a constitutional amendment, except that the text of the proposed law shall be prefaced by "Be it enacted by the people of the state of Ohio."


The form for a supplementary initiative petition shall be the same as that provided for an initiative petition, with the exception that "supplementary" shall precede "initiative" in the title thereof.


The general provisions set forth in this section relative to the form and order of an initiative petition shall be, so far as practical, applicable to a referendum petition, the heading of which shall be as follows:


"REFERENDUM PETITION


To be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection"
The title, which follows the heading, shall contain a brief legislative history of the law, section, or item of law to be referred. The text of the law so referred shall be followed by the certification of the secretary of state, in accordance with division (B)(2)(b) of section 3519.01 of the Revised Code, that it has been compared with the copy of the enrolled act, on file in the secretary of state's office, containing such law, section, or item of law, and found to be correct.

§ 3519.051. Signatures. (Effective 5/2/06)

Each signature of a voter who signs an initiative or referendum petition shall be an original signature of that voter in ink. Only initiative and referendum petitions containing those original signatures in ink shall be filed with the office of the secretary of state or a board of elections.

§ 3519.06. Verification of petition.

No initiative or referendum part-petition is properly verified if it appears on the face thereof, or is made to appear by satisfactory evidence:

  1. That the statement required by section 3519.05 of the Revised Code is not properly filled out;
  2. That the statement is not properly signed;
  3. That the statement is altered by erasure, interlineation, or otherwise;
  4. That the statement is false in any respect;
  5. That any one person has affixed more than one signature thereto.

§ 3519.07. Posting on web site. (Effective 5/2/06)

(A) The secretary of state shall post each of the following on the web site of the office of the secretary of state:


(1) The full text of each state law or constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition that has been approved for the ballot;


(2) The certified summary of each state law or constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition that has been approved for the ballot;


(3) The ballot language of each state law or constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition;


(4) The arguments or explanations in favor of or against each state law or constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition that has been approved for the ballot.


(B) When publishing or posting on the web site of the office of the secretary of state arguments or explanations in favor of or against any state law or constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition that has been approved for the ballot, the secretary of state shall include the names of the persons who prepared the argument or explanation. The names of the persons shall not be considered part of the argument or explanation for purposes of the prohibition against arguments and explanations exceeding three hundred words under section 3519.03 of the Revised Code.

§ 3519.10. Signer must be qualified elector; information to be given; each petition to contain signatures of electors of only one county.

Each signer of any initiative or referendum petition must be a qualified elector of the state. He shall place on such petition after his name the date of signing and the location of his voting residence, including the street and number in which such voting residence is located, if in a municipal corporation, and the rural route or other post-office address and township in which such voting residence is located, if outside a municipal corporation. Each signer may also print his name so as to clearly identify his signature. Each part-petition which is filed shall contain signatures of electors of only one county. Petitions containing signatures of electors of more than one county shall not thereby be declared invalid. In case petitions containing signatures of electors of more than one county are filed, the secretary of state shall determine the county from which the majority of signatures came, and only signatures from such county shall be counted. Signatures from any other county shall be invalid.

§ 3519.14. Petition may not be filed with insufficient signatures.

The secretary of state shall not accept for filing any initiative or referendum petition which does not purport to contain at least the minimum number of signatures required for the submission of the amendment, proposed law, or law to be submitted under the initiative or referendum power.

§ 3519.15. Part-petitions sent to boards of elections; procedure by boards.

Whenever any initiative or referendum petition has been filed with the secretary of state, he shall forthwith separate the part-petitions by counties and transmit such part-petitions to the boards of elections in the respective counties. The several boards shall proceed at once to ascertain whether each part-petition is properly verified, and whether the names on each part-petition are on the registration lists of such county, or whether the persons whose names appear on each part-petition are eligible to vote in such county, and to determine any repetition or duplication of signatures, the number of illegal signatures, and the omission of any necessary details required by law. The boards shall make note opposite such signatures and submit a report to the secretary of state indicating the sufficiency or insufficiency of such signatures and indicating whether or not each part-petition is properly verified, eliminating, for the purpose of such report, all signatures on any part-petition that are not properly verified.

In determining the sufficiency of such a petition, only the signatures of those persons shall be counted who are electors at the time the boards examine the petition.

§ 3519.16. Protest against board's findings; establishing of sufficiency or insufficiency of signatures; supplementary petition.

If the circulator of any part-petition, the committee interested therein, or any elector files with the board of elections a protest against the board's findings made pursuant to section 3519.15 of the Revised Code, then the board shall proceed to establish the sufficiency or insufficiency of the signatures and of the verification thereof in an action before the court of common pleas in the county. Such action must be brought within three days after the protest has been filed, and the case shall be heard forthwith by a judge of such court whose decision shall be certified to the board. The signatures which are adjudged sufficient or the part-petitions which are adjudged properly verified shall be included with the others by the board, and those found insufficient and all those part-petitions which are adjudged not properly verified shall not be included. The properly verified part-petitions, together with the report of the board, shall be returned to the secretary of state not less than fifty days before the election, provided that in the case of an initiated law to be presented to the general assembly the boards shall promptly check and return the petitions together with their report. The secretary of state shall notify the chairman of the committee in charge of the circulation as to the sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition and the extent of the insufficiency. If the petition is found insufficient because of an insufficient number of valid signatures, such committee shall be allowed ten additional days after such notification by the secretary of state for the filing of additional signatures to such petition. The part-petitions of the supplementary petition which appear to the secretary of state to be properly verified, upon receipt thereof by the secretary of state, shall forthwith be forwarded to the boards of the several counties together with the part-petitions of the original petition which have been properly verified, and shall be immediately examined and passed upon as to the validity and sufficiency of the signatures thereon by each of such boards and returned within five days to the secretary of state with the boards' report. No signature on a supplementary part-petition which is the same as a signature on an original part-petition shall be counted. The number of signatures in both the original and supplementary petitions, properly verified, shall be used by the secretary of state in determining the total number of signatures to the petition which he shall record and announce. If they are sufficient, then such amendment, proposed law, or law shall be placed on the ballot as required by law. If the petition is found insufficient, the secretary of state shall notify the committee in charge of the circulation of the petition.

§ 3519.18. Power of boards of elections.

In the performance of the duties required of the boards of elections, the boards may subpoena witnesses, compel the production of books, records, and other evidence, administer oaths, and take evidence.

§ 3519.21. Ballot title of propositions or issues.

The order in which all propositions, issues, or questions, including proposed laws and constitutional amendments, shall appear on the ballot and the ballot title of all such propositions, issues, or questions shall be determined by the secretary of state in case of propositions to be voted upon in a district larger than a county, and by the board of elections in a county in the case of a proposition to be voted upon in a county or a political subdivision thereof. In preparing such a ballot title the secretary of state or the board shall give a true and impartial statement of the measures in such language that the ballot title shall not be likely to create prejudice for or against the measure. The person or committee promoting such measure may submit to the secretary of state or the board a suggested ballot title, which shall be given full consideration by the secretary of state or board in determining the ballot title.

Except as otherwise provided by law, all propositions, issues, or questions submitted to the electors and receiving an affirmative vote of a majority of the votes cast thereon are approved.

§ 3519.22. Election unaffected by insufficiency; number of petitioners needed.

No measure submitted to the electors and receiving an affirmative majority of the votes cast on the measure shall be held ineffective or void on account of the insufficiency of the petitions by which such submission was procured.

The basis upon which the required number of petitioners in any case is determined shall be the total number of votes cast for the office of governor, in the case of state, county, or municipal referendum, at the most recent election therefore.