COLUMBUS, OHIO — Today the ACLU of Ohio filed a brief on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Ohio as amicus curiae to the Ohio Supreme Court in One Person One Vote v. LaRose, a case challenging the legality of recently passed Senate Joint Resolution 2, which unlawfully purports to create an August special election.
Senate Joint Resolution 2, a proposal to increase the passage threshold for ballot measures from 50%+1 to a supermajority of 60%, was hurriedly passed by the General Assembly on May 10, the last day to file local questions and issues for the August 8 special election. The irony being, almost exactly five months prior, the General Assembly passed House Bill 458, eliminating special elections altogether except in cases of financial crisis within a specific municipality.
“In December, the General Assembly specifically eliminated August statewide special elections due to the abysmally low voter turnout. It is undemocratic and brazenly manipulative to put matters of such importance on the ballot during a special election with historically single digit turnout, when the majority of voters are unaware an election is even taking place,” noted Amy Gilbert, Staff Attorney of the ACLU of Ohio.
“SJR 2 is a shameless attempt to silence the voice of Ohioans by allowing a small minority of voters to defeat the will of the majority,” added Jen Miller, Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio. “Most Ohioans will not even realize that there is an August Special Election, let alone understand that their rights are on the line. Having so few voters participate in deciding an issue of such great import is not how democracy is supposed to work.”
The ACLU of Ohio argues that a low-turnout August Special Election is the proponents’ effort to rig the result by artificially enhancing supporters’ voting power. This tactic has been likened to the political equivalent of venue shopping.
As cited in the brief, an August Special Election also puts tremendous administrative burdens on the 88 county boards of election, which will be forced to run and certify one election while preparing for another. “If this August Special Election moves forward, our hardworking elections officials will likely struggle with poll-worker recruitment, changing polling locations, human resource constraints, and burnout. We call on the Supreme Court of Ohio to do right by county elections officials and voters by putting a stop to this unnecessary, wasteful, and illegal August Election” added Miller.
The ACLU of Ohio urges the Court to order Secretary LaRose to remove the constitutional amendment proposed in Senate Joint Resolution 2 from the August 8, 2023, special election and instruct election officials not to proceed with the special election.
Read a copy of the amicus brief below.