U.S. District Judge Edmund Sargus from Cincinnati has handed down a controversial order allowing several ballot issue campaigns to gain signatures digitally, while also expanding the signature-gathering window until July 31. This order came in response to complaints brought forward by Ohioans for Raising the Wage and Ohioans for Secure and Fair Elections. However, this order may apply to all pending ballot issue campaigns gathering signatures, but clarification is needed.
One of the challenges we face with ballot issues in Ohio, at least in the context of our business community, is that we can see a lot of “out-of-state” money thrown behind our opposition’s side of an issue leaving our in-state stakeholders to pick up the vast majority of the tab in fighting it. This order sets a precedent to make ballot issue changes to our state constitution easier to facilitate, which both in the short and long term can be detrimental to Ohio businesses.
So what’s next? Well, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose immediately spoke out against the order. And the next step is for an appeal to this order to be brought forward in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The timeline is unclear, but we’ll likely hear about an appeal in the near future.