Group files lawsuit against Ohio special election in August

By: - May 12, 2023 3:13 pm

COLUMBUS, Ohio — MAY 10: Linda Wagner of Galena holds up a sign during a protest against the SJR 2 before the Ohio House session, May 10, 2023, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Graham Stokes for Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A lawsuit has been filed challenging the state’s legally questionable August election meant to stop abortion from becoming legal. One Person One Vote, a nonpartisan coalition, announced it filed a lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court challenging the controversial election.

Dennis Willard, spokesperson for One Person One Vote, said, “Our complaint asks the Ohio Supreme Court to call this election what it is: illegal. Just five months ago, the General Assembly specifically prohibited all statewide special elections in August. Secretary (Frank) LaRose explained that August elections have ’embarrassingly low’ turnout and are bad for taxpayers, election officials, voters, and the civic health of our state. To that end, the General Assembly revised Ohio law to allow elections only during November, March, or May and they’ve done nothing since that time to change the law. Constitutional amendments may be voted on in November, March or May – not August – and we’re confident the Court will agree.”

News 5 spoke to legal experts Thursday with different political leanings. Each came to the same conclusion that opponents would have a strong legal case against the resolution.

“The question every voter should be asking themselves is – why August, when there was already an election scheduled for November? The answer is simple: because that’s what special interests wanted,” Willard said. “Special interests spent millions lobbying for an August election, which will cost taxpayers $20 million, specifically because that’s when turnout is the lowest. This is an illegal special election for special interests. Period.”

State lawmakers in the House and Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 on Wednesday evening to put a measure on a special election ballot in August to require a 60% supermajority of Ohio voters to amend the state’s constitution, a move some lawmakers hope will make it less likely that voters will make abortion legal in November.

The GOP has insisted it has a strong legal case and will win against litigation.

News 5 reached out to LaRose and Attorney General Dave Yost to comment on the lawsuit.

“We don’t comment on litigation,” LaRose’s spokesperson Rob Nichols said.

Yost’s office has not responded.

This article was originally published on and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.

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Morgan Trau
Morgan Trau

Morgan Trau is a political reporter and multimedia journalist based out of the WEWS Columbus Bureau. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Trau has previously worked as an investigative, political and fact-checking reporter in Grand Rapids, Mich. at WZZM-TV; a reporter and MMJ in Spokane, Wash. at KREM-TV and has interned at 60 Minutes and worked for CBS Interactive and PBS NewsHour.