Referendum Information

Referendum Information

Posted: March, 2011

The legislature has enacted S.B. 5, the anti-collective bargaining bill. A referendum challenge is being made against that bill. This page discusses the Ohio requirements for a referendum challenge to a law.

Starting the Process

  • To start the referendum process, the parties seeking the referendum must have ballot language certified by filing signatures of 1000 registered voters, along with the full text of the law they want to challenge and a summary of the law they want to challenge. The Secretary of State must certify the signatures and language and then the Attorney General must certify the language. [see R.C. 3519.01]

Requirements for Valid Referendum Petitions

  • Once that happens, the challengers to the law can circulate referendum petitions for signatures. To be valid, signatures must be [1] from a registered voter and [2] have the proper information filled out.Valid petitions must have been properly filled out and signed by the circulator. Petitions can only contain signatures of voters from one county. The petitions must be filed within 90 days after the date the Governor files the law with the Secretary of State. [see Oh. Const. Art. II, Section 1(c); Oh. Const. Art. II, Section 1(g); R.C. 3519.06; R.C. 3519.10]

Number of Signatures Required to Get Referendum on Ballot

  • Two signature requirements must be met to get the referendum on the ballot. There is a state-wide signature requirement and a per-county signature requirement.The state-wide signature requirement is six percent of the electorate that voted for the office of governor in the last election. According to the Secretary of State’s web site, 3,852,469 people voted in the 2010 governor’s election. 6% of that is 231,149 (rounding up).

    The per-county signature requirement is three percent of the voters from 44 counties.

    [see Oh. Const. Art. II, Section 1(c); Oh. Const. Art. II, Section 1(g)]

What happens once the petition is filed?

  • The petition will be filed with the Ohio Secretary of State. The Secretary of State will separate the part-petitions by county and send the part-petitions from each county to that county’s Board of Elections.The county Boards of Elections will review each part-petition and determine whether the part-petitions are properly verified. The Boards of Elections will also check the signatures, to ensure that the signatures are of registered voters in that county. The county Boards of Election will eliminate duplicate, illegal, and improper signatures.

    The county Boards of Election will then report to the Ohio Secretary of State on the number of valid and invalid signatures.

    [see R.C. 3519.15.]

If enough valid signatures are filed, what happens?

  • If the Ohio Secretary of State finds that enough valid signatures have been filed, the matter will be placed on the November ballot. The people of the state will vote on whether or not the law will go into effect. The law will not go into effect until and unless a majority of voters approve it during the November election.As part of the election process, arguments for and against the law will be prepared. These arguments cannot exceed 300 words.

    The committee which sponsored the petition will prepare arguments against the law. Arguments for the law will be made by a committee named by the General Assembly, if it is in session. If the General Assembly is not in session, then the committee will be named by the governor.

    The law and the arguments for and against the law will be published once a week for the three weeks preceeding the election, in at least one newspaper of general circulation in each county where a newspaper is published.

    [see Oh. Const. Art. II, Section 1(c); Oh. Const. Art. II, Section 1(g)]

Information courtesy of the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin. Subscribe to the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Bulletin to keep informed about the Ohio workers’ compensation system.