Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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In this expedited election case, the Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus to compel the Plain Local School District Board of Education to forward to the Stark County Board of Elections a petition proposing the transfer of some of Plain Local School District's territory to Jackson Local School District, holding that the school board had a clear legal duty to forward the transfer petition to the board of elections. The petition sought to have a proposal to transfer the territory at issue placed on the March 17, 2020 primary election ballot. Under Ohio Rev. Code 3311.242(B)(2), the school board was required to certify the proposal to the board of elections by December 18, 2019. The school board stated that it would not act on the petition until there was a final determination of its claims in a previously filed lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of section 3311.242. Relators sought mandamus relief against the school board. The Supreme Court granted mandamus relief and ordered the school board to cause the board of elections to check the sufficiency of the signatures on the petition, holding that Relators established a clear legal right to the requested relief and a clear legal duty on the part of the school board to provide it. View "State ex rel. Dunn v. Plain Local School District Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this expedited election case in which the village of Hills and Dales sought a writ of mandamus to compel the Plain Local School District Board of Education to forward to the Stark County Board of Elections a petition proposing the transfer of some of the school district's territory to Jackson Local School District, holding that the village lacked standing. Specifically, the Court held that where Ohio Rev. Code 3311.242 authorizes only qualified electors to submit a transfer petition and does not confer rights upon municipal corporations, the village lacked authority to seek a writ of mandamus compelling the enforcement of Ohio Rev. Code 3311.242. View "State ex rel. Hills & Dales v. Plain Local School District Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Katrina D. Keith's claim seeking a writ of prohibition requiring the Lawrence County Board of Elections and its members (collectively, the Board) to remove Samuel T. Cramblit II's name from the ballot and prohibiting the Board from counting the votes Cramblit received as a candidate for the officer of Ironton Mayor in the November 5, 2019 general election, holding that Keith failed to state a claim in prohibition. Keith, Ironton's current mayor and Cramblit's opponent in the election, argued that the Board should not have certified Cramblit's name to the ballot because he did not meet the residency qualification for the office under Ironton's charter. The Supreme Court dismissed Keith's claim, holding that Keith failed to state a valid claim in prohibition because the Board did not exercise quasi-judicial power regarding Cramblit's candidacy. View "State ex rel. Keith v. Lawrence County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals denying Appellant's request for a writ of mandamus ordering the Tuscarawas County Board of Elections to certify Appellant's name to the November 2019 ballot as a candidate for mayor of the village of Sugarcreek, holding that Appellant did not have a clear legal right to have his name placed on the November ballot where his petition did not substantially comply with Ohio Rev. Code 3513.261. The Board rejected Appellant's petition because he failed to complete the nominating-petition portion of the Form No. 3-O part-petitions. The court of appeals denied Appellant's complaint seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the Board to certify his name to the ballot. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Appellant's submission of Form No. 3-O part-petitions that omitted his name and the office he sought from the nominating-petition portion of the forms did not amount to substantial compliance with section 3513.261. View "State ex rel. Weller v. Tuscarawas County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition sought by Bryan R. Barney and Walbonns, LLC (the protestors) seeking to prevent the Union County Board of Elections from placing a township zoning referendum on the November 5, 2019 general election ballot, holding that the Board correctly denied the protest. At issue was the decision of the Board determining that a petition seeking to place a referendum concerning a zoning amendment on the November ballot contained a sufficient number of valid signatures and certifying the issue to the ballot. The protestors filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition, arguing that the Board lacked authority to place the petition on the ballot. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the petition met the statutory requirements and that the Board correctly rejected the protestors' arguments for invalidating the petition. View "State ex rel. Barney v. Union County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied Relator's complaint seeking a writ of mandamus ordering the Greene County Board of Elections to verify the signatures on his petition and to certify his name to the November 5, 2019 general election ballot as a candidate for Xenia Township Trustee, holding that Relator did not establish a clear legal right to the relief he sought or a clear legal duty on the part of the Board to provide it. The Board rejected Relator's petition and did not complete its verification of the signatures because the circulator statement on each part-petition indicated forty-four signatures - the total number on the entire petition - rather than the number of signatures on the individual part-petition. The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Relator, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, Relator did not have a clear legal right to have his name certified to the ballot. View "State ex rel. Combs v. Greene Cty. Bd. of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of prohibition sought by the village of Georgetown to prevent the Brown County Board of Elections from placing a tax-levy-reduction measure on the November 5, 2019 general election ballot, holding that the village was not entitled to relief on either of its propositions of law. In opposition to placement of the levy-reduction measure on the ballot the village (1) alleged that the board acted unreasonably and arbitrarily when it found the petition contained a sufficient number of valid signatures, and (2) challenged the substantive validity of the ballot measure. The Supreme Court denied the requested writ, holding (1) the petition had a sufficient number of valid signatures; and (2) the board did not abuse its discretion by approving the levy-reduction measure for the ballot. View "Village of Georgetown v. Brown County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus to compel the Sandusky County Board of Elections to place a referendum petition concerning a city zoning ordinance on the November 2019 general election ballot, holding that the board's decision was contrary to law. The board excluded the petition from the ballot upon finding that the city zoning ordinance was properly passed as an emergency measure and was therefore not subject to referendum. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance failed to state an emergency under Ohio Rev. Code 731.30 and was not properly enacted as an emergency measure. Therefore, the ordinance was subject to referendum. View "State ex rel. Hasselbach v. Sandusky County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed Save Your Courthouse Committee's action seeking a writ of prohibition against the city of Medina and its director of finance (collectively, the municipal respondents) and denied the mandamus claim on the merits, holding that the committee could not show that article II, section 1g of the Ohio Constitution imposes a duty to allow ten days to gather additional signatures in support of a municipal initiative petition. The committee prepared an initiative petition that would allow city electors to vote on a courthouse project. The petition did not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. When a committee member asked the board of elections to afford the committee ten additional days to gather signatures, the board denied the request. The committee then filed its complaint for writs of prohibition and mandamus. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding (1) because the city did not exercise quasi-judicial authority, prohibition was not available to block the ordinance; and (2) the committee failed to show that the board had a duty to allow ten extra days to gather additional signatures for the municipal initiative petition. View "State ex rel. Save Your Courthouse Committee v. City of Medina" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Randy Law a writ of mandamus ordering the Trumbull County Board of Elections to recertify his candidacy to the November 2019 ballot as an independent candidate for mayor of Warren, holding that the board abused its discretion by removing Law from the ballot. After Law submitted his petition to run as an independent candidate for mayor of Warren the board certified Law's candidacy to the November 2019 ballot. At a protest hearing, the board concluded that Law must be removed from the ballot because he had not disaffiliated himself from the Republican Party in good faith. Law then filed this action seeking a writ of mandamus, a writ of prohibition, or both. The Supreme Court granted the writ of mandamus and denied the writ of prohibition, holding that the board abused its discretion by (1) misconstruing the relevant inquiry when it required Law to take affirmative action to demonstrate his good faith, and (2) removing Law from the ballot based on evidence that was not probative of bad faith. View "State ex rel. Law v. Trumbull County Board of Elections" on Justia Law