(The Center Square) – The Ohio Ballot Board announced Wednesday morning it plans to meet Thursday to change Issue 1 language ordered by the Ohio Supreme Court.
The court agreed with One Person, One Vote’s challenge of language contained in Issue 1 on a limited basis, requiring the board to change only the phrase “the citizens of the State,” but not the other issues.
According to the opinion, “We agree with relators that the term ‘citizens of the State’ in the ballot language is misleading. We therefore grant a limited writ of mandamus ordering the secretary to reconvene the ballot board forthwith and ordering the board to adopt ballot language that accurately describes that the proposed amendment regulates actions of the ‘State.’ The writ is denied in all other respects.”
The suit wanted either the full text of the amendment on the ballot or 10 things changed from the language adopted by the board. It argued the language misled voters on the right created, what would be restricted and how the amendment would limit state regulation, among other things.
“We’re pleased by the Supreme Court’s validation of our approach to ballot language for Issue 1,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose said. “By rejecting special interest attempts to substitute their own carefully crafted and poll tested language for that of the ballot board, they have ensured Ohio voters will have a full and accurate understanding of the proposed measure when they go to cast their ballots.”
The current language was approved by a 3-2 vote, with Republicans LaRose, Sen. Theresa Gavarone and William Morgan voting yes, while Democrats Sen. Paula Hicks-Hudson and Rep. Elliot Forhan voted no.
“Extreme Ohio Republicans continue to try to manipulate and mislead our state’s voters through government-sponsored propaganda, but Ohio voters are smarter than that,” Forhan said. “The Republican-controlled Ballot Board approved dishonest and deceitful ballot summary language that misrepresents the Issue 1 proposed amendment. The Ohio Supreme Court failed today to uphold its duty to correct those mistakes.”
The court agreed with proponents that the language approved by the ballot board misleads the average voter about whose actions the amendment restricts. The court did call some other language – “reproductive medical treatment,” rather than “reproductive medical care” – imprecise but not misleading.
The court also said the board only listing abortion, rather than the other reproductive categories outlined in the amendment, is not misleading.
“While the ballot language might have been more comprehensive if it included references to the other decisions listed in the proposed amendment, the omission is not material when considering the amendment as a whole,” the court’s opinion said.