Boards of Elections to Allow Electronic Filing of Questions and Issues

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In 2018, the 132nd General Assembly enacted Substitute House Bill 500, which made various changes to township law.1 Among other provisions, the bill updated the law governing certification of questions and issues to the ballot. As of January 1, 2021, there is no longer a statutory prohibition against a political subdivision or other entity emailing a certified question or issue to a board of elections for placement on the ballot.

This change in law does not allow petitions to be filed electronically. As in the past, candidate and issue petitions (such as citizen-initiated initiatives, recalls, or referendums) must be filed in paper form. Electronic filing is only permitted for questions or issues certified by a political subdivision or other entity, such as tax levies and bond issues. For example, a taxing authority will submit its resolution to proceed, auditor’s certificate, and resolution of necessity to the board of elections in either electronic or paper form. The law still allows the certification to be submitted in paper form, but it now permits political subdivisions and other entities to use an electronic form as an alternative.

A Directive (2021-09) was issued to county boards of elections by the Ohio Secretary of State on Feb. 9 providing guidance.  To read the Directive in its entirety, please visit the Secretary of State’s website (https://www.sos.state.oh.us/elections/elections-officials/rules/).