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1 Ohio's Ballot Petition Signature Requirements during a Pandemic 1 (2021)

handle is hein.congcourts/oosbtpns0001 and id is 1 raw text is: CASE STUDIES IN EMERGENCY ELECTION LITIGATION

Ohio's Ballot Petition Signature Requirements
During a Pandemic
Thompson v. DeWine (Edmund A. Sargus, Jr.,
2:20-cv-2129), Duncan v. LaRose (Michael H. Watson,
2:20-cv-2295), and Hawkins v. DeWine
(James L. Graham, 2:20-cv-2781) (S.D. Ohio)
Federal actions sought modifications of Ohio's requirements for get-
ting candidates and measures on the ballot in a time of social distanc-
ing to prevent transmission of COVID-19 during a global pandemic:
acceptance of electronic signatures, a reduced signature require-
ment, and extended deadlines. One district judge ordered acceptance
of electronic signatures and an extension of the deadline but not a
reduction in the number of signatures required. The court of appeals,
however, stayed the injunction, finding ballot access requirements
modest even during the pandemic. A second judge denied relief to a
pro se minor presidential candidate. A third judge denied relief, rea-
soning in part that social distancing is not state action.
Subject: Getting on the ballot. Topics: Getting on the ballot;
COVID-19; intervention; ballot measure; pro se party; case
Federal courts largely denied relief from ballot petition signature requirements
during the global COVID-19 infectious pandemic of 2020.
Ballot Access Requirements for Local Initiatives and Referenda
Three voters challenged Ohio's ballot access requirements for local initiatives
and referenda during the governor's stay-at-home order issued because of the
COVID-19 pandemic, filing a federal complaint in the Southern District of
Ohio on Monday, April 27, 2020.1 Specifically, the complaint challenged the
in-person signature and witness requirements and the deadlines.2 With their
complaint, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order or a
preliminary injunction.3 The court set the case for a telephone conference with
Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr., at 10:30 a.m. on April 28.4 Judge Sargus set an-
other telephone conference for May 8 and ordered a response brief from Ohio
by May 7.5
1. Complaint, Thompson v. DeWine, No. 2:20-cv-2129 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 27, 2020), D.E. 1.
2. Id. at 1.
3. Motion, id. (Apr. 27, 2020), D.E. 4.
4. Notice, id. (Apr. 28, 2020), D.E. 5; Docket Sheet, id. (Apr. 27, 2020) [hereinafter Thomp-
son Docket Sheet] (minutes, D.E. 9).
Tim Reagan interviewed Judge Sargus for this report by telephone on August 24, 2020.
5. Order, Thompson, No. 2:20-cv-2129 (S.D. Ohio Apr. 28, 2020), D.E. 12; Notice, id. (Apr.
28, 2020), D.E. 10.

Federal Judicial Center 8/10/2021


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