COLUMBUS, Ohio — A coalition of voting advocates looking to reform elections resubmitted petition language to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office regarding a proposed constitutional amendment. The move comes less than three weeks after their initial proposal was rejected. Now, the goal of the coalition is to get approval, and try to get the proposal on the 2024 ballot. 

What You Need To Know

  • Attorney General Dave Yost rejected the coalition's petition citing four specific examples where he said its summary was not a fair and truthful representation of the amendment.
  • The groups have rewritten the summary language hoping for approval from the Ohio Attorney General's Office

  • A constitutional law expert told Spectrum News this time the group could have a chance to move forward

Petee Talley is a representative of The Ohio Voter Bill of Rights, a coalition determined to change Ohio’s election law.

“We believe that this amendment would help guarantee that all voices are heard and that all voices are counted in our electorate,” Talley said. “And, we believe that this bill of rights is going to help us build an equitable path to the ballot box for all Ohioans, while at the same time safeguarding the security and integrity of our elections.” 

However, the group’s first attempt to move the proposal forward was denied. Attorney General Dave Yost rejected their petition last month and cited four specific examples where he believed the summary language was unfair and not a truthful representation of the amendment. Now, the changes cited have been put forth by the groups.

According to Talley, the objective is for the Attorney General to continue the process, as they will need to gather over 400,000 signatures when approved to approach the voters. 

Whether Yost approves the new version of the summary language is yet to be seen. In his rejection letter, Yost indicated that the mistakes he pointed out were only a few examples of issues that were in the first proposal. That could mean it is unclear if there are others that the group did not address in its second version of the petition.

Constitutional law expert Atiba Ellis said the proposal has a good chance of moving forward.

Ellis noted that the summary appears to further specify the specific components of the proposed legislation to be approved. “And it certainly appears to be a good faith effort to satisfy the standard being enforced by the Attorney General,” Ellis said.

The petition aims to make several changes. One includes expanded options for voter IDs. It would also create a system automatically registering voters when they apply for or renew a driver’s license. It would also allow for same-day voter registration and add more early voting options. Previously, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said these changes could make Ohio’s elections insecure. However, Ellis believes the Buckeye State currently has among the most restrictive voting laws in the country.

“There are a number of states that allow very broad windows of opportunity for registration,” Ellis said. “Including up to same day registration, automatic voter registration opportunities and other similar opportunities to register early, to use a broad range of ID for proving your identity when registering and when voting, and ample opportunity to vote by drop box by absentee ballot and in person.” 

“Our coalition will continue to wage a righteous fight for the power of the people for full voting rights in the state of Ohio,” Talley said. “And we will continue to do that as long as we have the ability to do so.”

The Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has until the end of next week to make a decision on this petition.

Correction: A previous version of this article misnamed the coalition of the Ohio Voter Bill of Rights. This error has been corrected. (January 18, 2024).