Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition sought by Relators in this expedited election case to bar the Clark County Board of Elections from placing a referendum on the November 2021 election ballot, holding that Relators were not entitled to the writ.Hillside Creek Farms filed an application to rezone its forty-two-acre parcel of real property from agricultural and rural residential to a Planned District-Residential classification. After the Clark County Board of County Commissioners approved the amended rezoning application a petition was filed requesting a ballot referendum on the Hillside rezoning resolution. Relators, including Hillside, filed a protest against the zoning-referendum petition. The denied the protest and placed the referendum on the November ballot. The Supreme Court denied Relators' requested writ of prohibition, holding that the board of elections' decision to approve the zoning referendum for placement on the ballot was authorized by law. View "Hillside Creek Farms v. Clark County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part a writ of mandamus sought by Relators, four City of Cincinnati electors, to compel changes to ballot language for a proposed amendment to the Cincinnati City Charter, holding that Relators showed that they were entitled to the writ in part.At issue was an initiative petition proposing amendments to the Cincinnati City Charter. The Hamilton County Board of Elections certified ballot language to which Relators objected. Relators filed this original action against the Board and its members alleging that the certified ballot language misrepresented the proposed amendment and omitted material information. The Supreme Court granted the writ in part and denied it in all other respects, holding that Relators showed that the Board abused its discretion in preparing and certifying only certain ballot language for the proposed amendment. View "State ex rel. Rhoads v. Hamilton County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a limited writ sought by Mark Ferrara and ordered the Trumbull County Board of Elections to determine the number of valid signatures on the part-petition at issue and, if appropriate, to certify Ferrara's name to the ballot, holding that Ferrara was entitled to relief.To appear on the ballot for Brookfield Township trustee Ferrara was required to gather twenty-five qualifying signatures of nomination. Ferrara submitted a nominating petition that consisted of two part-petitions. The Board rejected the second part-petition "due to undercounting of signatures on the circulator's statement." The Supreme Court granted a limited writ ordering the Board to determine the number of valid signatures on Ferrara's second part-petition and, if appropriate, to certify his name to the ballot, holding that the record did not conclusively demonstrate that the Board had verified the signatures on Ferrara's second part-petition. View "State ex rel. Ferarra v. Trumbull County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus ordering the Delaware County Board of Elections to place Relator, Robert "Ben" Grumbles, on the November 2, 2021 election ballot as a candidate for a four-year term as an Orange Township trustee to commence on January 1, 2022, holding that Relator was entitled to the writ.The Board rejected Relator's nominating petition on the basis that he was currently serving a different four-year term commencing on January 1, 2020 as an Orange Township trustee and that Relator was ineligible to run for election to an office he already held. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that the board of elections abused its discretion and disregarded applicable law in rejecting Relator's candidacy because there is no statutory provision that bars Relator from being elected to a different seat on the same board of township trustees. View "State ex rel. Grumbles v. Delaware County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus to compel Whitehall City Attorney Michael T. Bivens to certify the sufficiency of Petitioners' referendum petition for the rejection or approval of a zoning ordinance in the city of Whitehall, holding that Petitioners were entitled to the writ.Bivens rejected the petition not he ground that Petitioners failed to comply with Ohio Rev. Code 731.32's requirement to submit a certified copy of the zoning ordinance to the city auditor before circulating their petition. The Supreme Court granted Bivens' writ petition, holding that that Bivens abused his discretion in determining that Petitioners' referendum petition was insufficient because they had not complied with section 731.32. View "State ex rel. Pennington v. Bivens" on Justia Law

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In this original action, the Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition to prevent the Miami County Board of Elections from certifying Jessica Lopez's candidacy for municipal court judge to the November 2021 ballot, holding that Relator, Miami County Municipal Court Judge Gary Nasal, was not entitled to relief.Judge Nasal filed a protest with the Board challenging its decision to certify Lopez to the ballot as a candidate for municipal court judge in the November 2021 election. The Board denied the protest without explanation. Judge Nasal subsequently commenced this action for a writ of prohibition. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the Board did not abuse its discretion or act in clear disregard of applicable law by denying the protest. View "State ex rel. Nasal v. Miami County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus seeking to place a referendum on the November 2021 ballot asking voters to approve or disapprove an amendment to the Liberty Township Zoning Resolution, holding that the Delaware County Board of Elections did not abuse its discretion or disregard clearly applicable law in sustaining a protest to the referendum petition.The board of elections sustained the protest to the referendum petition because the petition did not include an adequate summary of the zoning amendment as required by Ohio Rev. Code 519.12(H). Relator, Scott Donaldson, sought this writ of mandamus ordering the board of elections to place the referendum on the ballot. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that Relator failed to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the board of elections abused its discretion or disregarded clearly applicable law in sustaining the protest to the referendum petition. View "State ex rel. Donaldson v. Delaware County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus sought to compel Respondents - the village of Bridgeport, the village's clerk and mayor, and the Belmont County Board of Elections - to certify to the elections board the sufficiency and validity of an initiative petition, holding that Relator failed to file the petition with the village clerk.This case involved a "Sensible Marihuana Ordinance" initiative petition in the village of Bridgeport. Ohio Rev. Code 731.28 requires the proponents of initiative petitions to file the completed petitions with the city auditor or village clerk. When Respondents refused to accept the petition, Relator filed this action. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that because Relator did not comply with the requirement in section 731.28 that he file the signed petition with the village clerk, Relator was not entitled to the writ. View "State ex rel. Schmitt v. Bridgeport" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Relators a writ of mandamus ordering the Trumbull County Board of Elections and its members (collectively, the Board) to remove the issue of Sandra Breymaier's recall from the June 1, 2021 special-election ballot, holding that the measure did not comply with ballot-access requirements.A group of Newton Falls electors presented to the clerk of the city council a petition to recall Breymaier, a city council member. The Mayor informed the Board that the Newton Falls city council had passed a motion to schedule a special election for June 1, 2021 on Breymaier's recall. The Board set the recall election to occur on June 1. Relators, including Breymaier, commenced this action seeking writs of prohibition and mandamus to prevent the Board from holding the recall election and ordering the Board to remove the recall measure from the June 1 ballot. The Supreme Court denied the writ of prohibition because the Board did not exercise quasi-judicial authority but granted a writ of mandamus because the city council had not duly passed a motion to set the recall election for June 1. View "State ex rel. Fritz v. Trumbull County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus compelling Respondents, the Stark County Board of Commissioners and its members, to acquire new voting machines, holding that the Commissioners had a clear legal duty to acquire the machines under Ohio Rev. Stat. 3506.02(A).In 2018, the General Assembly passed Am.Sub.S.B. No. 135, providing funding to Ohio counties to subsidize the purchase of new voting machines. In 2020, the Stark County Board of Elections voted to acquire voting machines from Dominion Voting Systems. The Commissioners voted not to adopt the Board's recommendation. The elections board then filed this original action seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the Commissioners to acquire the new voting machines from Dominion. The Supreme Court granted the writ, holding that the Commissioners had a clear legal duty to acquire the equipment and that the elections board had a clear legal right to the acquisition. View "Stark County Board of Elections v. Stark County Board of Commissioners" on Justia Law