Ohio Ballot Board will determine the SB5 question posed to Ohio voters

"Vote!" by Flickr user hjl.

On Thursday, July 21, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced that more than 915,000 registered voters’ signatures on Senate Bill 5 referendum petitions were certified by county boards of election throughout the state. Slightly more than 231,000 valid signatures needed to be collected in order to send SB5 to the voters. We Are Ohio, the umbrella organization representing the statewide effort to overturn SB5 collected more than 1.2 million signatures in less than three months.

With slightly less than four months until the November 8 General Election, the SB5 statewide issue has a few more hurdles to clear. According to the Ohio Constitution, organizations or individuals who wish to dispute the validity of the petitions or their signatures must file a challenge with the Ohio Supreme Court. The deadline for such a challenge is Friday, Aug. 5, 105 days prior to the election. If a challenge were filed, the Ohio Supreme Court would have until Friday, Aug. 15 to sustain or overrule any  challenge(s) to the statewide referendum.

The next step is writing the argument against SB5 that will be seen by Ohio’s electorate when they vote on Senate Bill 5. The responsibility of writing the argument against Senate Bill 5 will fall on the committee that submitted the initial petitions to begin the referendum process. According to the Ohio Constitution, the argument against SB5 cannot exceed 300 words in length, and must be submitted no later than 80 days prior to the election.

The Ohio Constitution says that the individuals responsible for writing the 300 word argument in favor of SB 5 are to be picked by the Ohio General Assembly. However, since the legislature is not in session, the choice of who writes the argument in favor of SB5 goes to the governor. The Ohio Ballot Board is the body that will ultimately decide how the SB5 ballot issue will appear to Ohio voters.

The makeup of the five-member Ohio Ballot Board is prescribed by the Ohio Constitution and state law. The board is chaired by the Ohio Secretary of State, and the four remaining members are appointed by the state legislature. The constitution requires that no more than two of the ballot board members appointed by the legislature be of the same political party. The Current members of the board include Secretary of State Jon Husted, Chairperson, William N. Morgan, Vice-Chairperson, Sen. Keith Faber, Fred Strahorn and Rebeecca L. Egelhoff.

Secretary of State Husted determined earlier in June that the SB5 referendum cannot be split into multiple issues and that the SB5 referendum will appear to voters as a single item. Husted said in a July 21 press release that the board is expected to meet in early August to approve the language of the SB5 referendum issue.

In that meeting, members will determine the wording of the question that will be posed to Ohio voters. Ohio Ballot Board members could approve a question that makes a “No” vote repeal SB5. Conversely, they could also approve a question that makes a “Yes” vote repeal SB5. A full transcript each meeting of the Ohio Ballot Board is kept on the Secretary of State’s website.