Ohio Petition Battle: Voter Registration Group Bows Out; Yost Argues For Pre-Pandemic Deadlines

by Josh Colletta

A ballot petition effort that aimed to make it easier to vote in Ohio has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but two other groups are continuing their battle with the state to extend deadlines.

The suspended petition drive would have had the Bureau of Motor Vehicles ask Ohioans if they want to register to vote when they conduct business with the B.M.V. A similar practice exists in several other states across the country. However, according to WBNO, the group says they were unable to collect enough signatures to move forward due to the lockdown.

Meanwhile, petition efforts to raise the state’s minimum wage and decriminalize marijuana continue. A lower court had previously ruled that Ohio’s government was making it unnecessarily impractical to conduct a petition drive by holding them to pre-pandemic deadlines. However, according to the Associated Press, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the relaxed deadline rules from going into effect.

Now, Attorney General Dave Yost has filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the lower court ruling effectively rewrites Ohio’s Constitution and state laws, and that changing the petition rules at this point would lead to confusion and wrongful passage in the November election.

The Supreme Court is being asked to determine whether or not the state’s demand to maintain the regular deadlines violates the right to ballot access.

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