Justia Election Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
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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

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The Supreme Court held that Relators were entitled to a limited writ of mandamus ordering Respondents, the members of the Columbus City Council, to find sufficient a proposed municipal ordinance initiative and to proceed with the process for an initiative ordinance under Columbus City Charter Section 43-1 et seq.Relators sought a writ of mandamus to compel Respondents to submit to Columbus city electors a proposed municipal ordinance initiative on the May 4, 2021 primary election ballot. The council refused to submit the initiative to electors, finding that the initiative petition was deficient in form. The Supreme Court granted a limited writ, holding (1) the council abused its discretion in finding that the petition was insufficient; and (2) a limited writ of mandamus requiring the council to move forward with the process set forth in section 43-1 et seq. was proper. View "State ex rel. Gil-Llamas v. Hardin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus compelling Secretary of State Frank LaRose to appoint Sharon Sweda to the Lorain County Board of Elections, holding that the Lorain County Democratic Party Committee did not demonstrate its entitlement to a writ of mandamus under the circumstances of this case.In rejecting the Committee's recommendation to appoint Sweda for appointment to the Lorain County Board of Elections, LaRose concluded that Sweda had not demonstrated "the judgment or adequate level of integrity necessary to ensure voter confidence." Thereafter, the Committee commenced this expedited action for a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the Committee failed to prove that LaRose abused his discretion when he rejected the Committee's recommendation. View "State ex rel. Lorain County Democratic Party Executive Committee v. LaRose" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted in part and denied in part a writ of mandamus to compel changes to ballot language for a proposed amendment to the Cincinnati City Charter, holding that Relators showed that the Hamilton County Board of Elections abused its discretion and disregarded applicable law.Relators sought to amend the Charter to require the City of Cincinnati to require the City to provide funding for affordable housing and neighborhood stabilization. The Secretary of State approved the ballot language over Relators' objection. Relators then brought this action seeking to compel the Board and Secretary of State to approve new ballot language. The Supreme Court granted the writ in part, holding (1) Relators failed to show that City Council or the Secretary of State had a clear legal duty to provide the requested relief; and (2) the Board improperly prepared and certified ballot language stating that the use of two potential funding sources for a proposed affordable housing trust fund would violate state law. View "State ex rel. Cincinnati Action for Housing Now v. Hamilton County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition filed by Mark W. Miller seeking to bar the Hamilton County Board of Elections and its members from placing the name of Aftab Pureval on the ballot as a candidate for mayor of Cincinnati in the May 4, 2021 nonpartisan primary election, holding that the board did not abuse its discretion.On appeal, Miller argued that the Board abused its discretion and clearly disregarded applicable law by denying his protest of Pureval's candidacy. Specifically, Miller argued that Pureval's part-petitions did not include sworn affidavits of the petition circulators in alleged violation of the Cincinnati City Charter. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that Pureval's part-petitions included in circulator statements substantially complied with the charter's prescribed form. View "State ex rel. Miller v. Hamilton County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of prohibition sought by Relator to bar the Warren County Board of Elections from placing certain tax-reduction measures on the November 2020 ballot, holding that the Board did not abuse its discretion or disregard applicable law by placing the petitions on the ballot.The tax levies at issue allow supported the Mason City School District and sought to reduce nine tax levies by .01 mills. Relator filed a protest against placing the tax-reduction measures on the ballot. The Board denied the protest. Thereafter, Relator filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus. The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that the the statutory requirements for ballot access were met, and therefore, the Board properly placed the petitions on the ballot. View "State ex rel. Meyer v. Warren County Board of Elections" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of mandamus sought by Relators ordering the members of the Stow City Council to hold an administrative vote on nine amendments to the Stow City Charter that were proposed by the 2020 Charter Review Commission and to issue an ordinance certifying the amendments to the board for placement on the November 3, 2020 general election ballot, holding that the Relators were not entitled to the writ.The Supreme Court denied the writs of the basis of the doctrine of laches, as well as Relators' failure to establish the existence of a clear legal right to the requested relief and a clear legal duty on the part of Respondents to provide it. The Court held (1) Relators met the elements of laches, and therefore, the doctrine of laches barred Relators' claims; and (2) Relators did not establish a clear and legal right to the requested relief, a clear legal duty on the part of Respondents to grant it, or a lack of an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law. View "State ex rel. Syx v. Stow City Council" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus sought by Relators seeking to compel the placement of four referendum petitions on the November 2020 ballot, holding that Relators failed to present evidence establishing their right to relief.King received petitions calling for a referendum on two meter ordinances, an ordinance authorizing the city manager to enter into an extension of the employment contract with the current law director, and an ordinance authorizing the issuance of bonds to fund the purchase and renovation of real property for use as a municipal building. King questioned whether the ordinances were subject to referendum. Relators then filed this mandamus complaint. The Supreme Court denied a writ of mandamus, holding that Relators failed to present evidence establishing their right to relief by clear and convincing evidence. View "State ex rel. Luonuansuu v. King" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court denied the writ of prohibition sought by Relator to prevent the Trumbull County Board of Elections from holding a hearing under Ohio Rev. Code 3501.11(J) and (Q), holding that Relator failed to show that the board was about to exercise quasi-judicial power, that the hearing was unauthorized by law, or that she lacked an adequate remedy in the ordinary course of the law.Section 3501.11(J) empowers the board to investigate violations of election law and report its findings to the secretary of state or the prosecuting attorney. Section 3501.11(Q) empowers the board to investigate the residence qualifications of electors. Relator, who won the Republican nomination to the office of Trumbull County Commissioner and was certified to appear on the November 3, 2020 ballot as a candidate, told Relator that it would hold a public hearing to address allegations regarding Relator's residence and eligibility as an elector during the 2019 through 2020 school year and Relator's alleged misstatements regarding the same. Relator filed a writ of prohibition seeking to prevent the board from holding the hearing.The Supreme Court denied the writ, holding that Relator failed to establish any of the elements showing that she was entitled to a writ of prohibition. View "State ex rel. Frenchko v. Trumbull County Board of Elections" on Justia Law