DeWine's State of the State address postponed

Governor Mike DeWine has postponed his annual State of the State address due to the coronavirus, according to a press release from his office. Originally scheduled for March 31, 2020, a new date for the address has not been set but will be after Ohio’s state of emergency is lifted. Read the full press release here.

General News

Governor DeWine seeks to postpone primary election to June

March 17, 2020 Update: Polls will be closed March 17, 2020. Governor DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton have executed an order closing all poll locations due to the extreme health risk of COVID-19. As developments occur, we will have updates available. 

March 16, 2020 Update: Franklin County Judge Frye has rejected Governor DeWine's request to move the election to June 2, 2020. The primary will be held on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 as previously scheduled. 

During Governor DeWine’s March 16, 2020, COVID-19 press briefing, Ohio officials announced the difficult decision to postpone the state’s Primary Election, scheduled for March 17, to June 2, 2020. Governor DeWine noted that he does not have the authority to extend the election, so an emergency lawsuit will be filed seeking postponement of the election. The governor also noted that he could not urge people to stay at home while at the same time urge people to exercise their right to vote. Therefore, delaying the election ensures that Ohioans will be able to cast a ballot but will also help reduce the risk of further infection. Joining Governor DeWine at the press conference, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose made clear that health and safety were non-negotiable. Secretary LaRose said that absentee voting by mail will continue. Votes previously cast through early voting will remain in storage and will get counted on June 2. As developments occur, we will have more information and updates available on our COVID-19 Resource Center.

Election Law, General News

COVID-19 may spur poll location changes for March 17 primary

The Ohio Secretary of State is taking coronavirus (COVID-19) related precautions for the upcoming March 17 primary election. Polling locations, particularly those that house senior citizens or populations susceptible to the virus, may be relocated. The Secretary and Boards of Elections are also encouraging early voting, both in person or by mail.

To find your polling location and for the latest election information, visit the Ohio Secretary of State’s website dedicated for updates with respect to COVID-19 and this year’s Primary Election in Ohio.

Election Law, General News

FEC releases coordinated party expenditure limits for 2020

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has adjusted coordinated party expenditure limits for 2020. For presidential nominees, the limit is $26,464,700. For Senate nominees, the limits range from $103,700 to $3,175,100, based on their state’s voting age population. Limits for House nominees are $103,700 (states with only one U.S. House Representative) or $51,900 (state with more than one U.S. House Representative).

The limits “are calculated according to a statutory formula that accounts for the annual cost-of-living adjustment,” according to the FEC’s news release. For more, read the full release.

Campaign Finance, General News

Want to honor a public official? Make sure you're in compliance

Recently, the Ohio Ethics Commission, in Advisory Opinion Number 2019-01, provided additional guidance on ceremonial gifts for public officials and employees. Public officials are often honored by groups for longstanding service or advocacy and may receive personalized items reflecting their contributions. Ohio law forbids public officials and employees from accepting a gift of substantial value from a party that is interested in matters before, regulated by, or doing or seeking to do business with the public employee or official’s agency. This creates a dilemma for both the public official and the group providing the ceremonial gift. For more, read the full story

General News

Legislative review and 2020 legislative and electoral preview

With the start of a new decade, our team wants to share an overview of the past year and a look ahead to the coming months. Please click the link below for a review of relevant legislation that the General Assembly passed in 2019, a summary of predictions for 2020 legislative priorities and a political preview of the 2020 statewide election. Read more >>

General News

Federal judge rules Ohio law restricting prisoners’ right to vote is unconstitutional

Prisoners awaiting trial “must be given same voting rights as other citizens,” U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson recently found, ruling on a case filed by two men incarcerated in Montgomery County last year, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Lawyers for the men argued that Ohio law “violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating prisoners differently than other voters,” according to the article. State law grants voters “confined in hospitals by unforeseen medical emergencies until 3 p.m. on Election Day to submit an absentee ballot application,” while voters held in jail “face a noon deadline on the Saturday before an election.” Watson wrote in his opinion, “[t]he legislature cannot simply grant one class of voters more favorable terms . . . (that) is exactly what the Equal Protection clause forbids.” For more, read the full article.

General News

Amendment introduced to prohibit foreign ownership in critical infrastructure in Ohio

Introduced on October 26, 2019, House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR 2), titled the “Ohio Critical Infrastructure Protection Amendment,” seeks to place a constitutional amendment before Ohio voters prohibiting foreign businesses and individuals from having a majority ownership interest in critical infrastructure located in Ohio. Read more >>

General News

Ohio Supreme Court rejects use of secret ballots by public bodies

On August 14, 2019, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously struck down the use of secret ballots during a public meeting in its decision in State ex rel. MORE Bratenahl v. Bratenahl (Slip Opinion 2019-Ohio-3233).

In 2015, Bratenahl Village Council voted, in an open meeting but by secret ballot, to fill the position of president pro tempore. Patricia Meade, publisher of the village’s community newspaper MORE Bratenahl, sought an injunction and declaratory judgment in the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, arguing that by conducting the vote by secret ballot, the Village of Bratenahl violated the Open Meetings Act, R.C. 121.22. The village argued that the Open Meetings Act did not establish a method of voting but only required that the vote take place in an open meeting, which did occur in this instance. The Court of Common Pleas and 8th District Court of Appeals both ruled in favor of the village and upheld the village’s discretion to use the voting method of its choice. Meade then appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled for Meade and found that while the term “open” is not defined in R.C. 121.22, the law requires that any “resolution, rule, or formal action of any kind is invalid unless adopted in an open meeting of the public body.” The purpose of the Open Meetings Act, as construed by the Court, is to “require public business to be conducted in a manner that is accessible to the public” (emphasis added). The fact that the village did not have a particular voting procedure does not allow for secret ballots, because secret ballots are not accessible to the public. The Court concluded that the village violated the Open Meetings Act and remanded the case to the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to issue an injunction.

Election Law, General News

One vote claims victory for Athens County school district

The state-mandated recount of the Alexander Local School District's May levy vote confirms that the issue has passed by one vote, with 1,184 votes for and 1,183 votes against, reports the Athens News. This is the district's sixth vote on the 1 percent earned income tax levy. Administrators say that the new levy will keep the district from a $1.5 million budget deficit and fund operating expenses. Read the full story.

General News
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