Supreme Court Orders State Ballot Board to Replace Ballot Language Describing Proposed Redistricting Amendment
Rules Board-Approved Ballot Language Contains Material Omissions and Factual Inaccuracies, Does Not Properly Identify Substance of the Amendment
In a per curiam decision issued late Wednesday, The Supreme Court of Ohio granted a writ of mandamus sought by proponents of a proposed constitutional amendment that is scheduled to appear on the November 6 statewide ballot. The writ orders the Ohio Ballot Board to reconvene “forthwith” to replace a board-approved condensed description of the proposed amendment, which seeks to change the way in which state and federal legislative districts are drawn, with ballot language that “properly describes” the proposed amendment.
The court based its order on findings that the board-approved text contained material omissions and factual inaccuracies, and did not properly identify the substance of the proposed amendment.
The court’s per curiam decision was joined by Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor and Justices Paul E. Pfeifer, Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, Terrence O’Donnell, Robert R. Cupp and Yvette McGee Brown.
Justice Pfeifer entered a separate opinion listing objections to specific provisions of the Ballot Board’s proposed language and suggesting text for a proper ballot summary. Chief Justice O’Connor entered an opinion, joined by Justices Stratton and McGee Brown, stating her view that the court is barred by the constitutional separation of powers from usurping the ballot board’s exclusive authority to craft the ballot language describing the proposed amendment.
Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger dissented, stating that in her view the ballot board’s summary language conveys the substance of the proposed amendment and should be upheld because it does not “deceive, mislead or defraud” voters.
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2012-1443. State ex rel. Voters First v. Ohio Ballot Bd., Slip Opinion No. 2012-Ohio-4149.
In Mandamus. Writ granted.
O’Connor, C.J., and Pfeifer, Lundberg Stratton, O’Donnell, Cupp, and McGee Brown, JJ., concur.
Lanzinger, J., dissents.
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