Press Releases

Press Release: Bowling Green Residents Tip OH Supreme Court in their Favor, Win Fight for Right to Vote

Oct 19, 2017 HB 463 – corporate state legislation to block citizen initiative – struck by Court BOWLING GREEN, OHIO:  Today, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the right of Bowling Green residents to vote, ordering their first-in-the-state Right to Climate charter amendment on the November ballot. The Wood County Board of Elections (BOE) approved the measure for the ballot last month. One resident challenged the decision, arguing in part that the substance of the initiative was unconstitutional and, under HB 463 should be kept off the ballot. HB 463 was adopted by the people’s legislators last December. The legislators granted BOEs broad authority to keep measures off the ballot based on content, making it difficult for residents to propose legislation that challenges unjust law. The Ohio Supreme Court would have none of it, striking HB 463 down as a violation of the separation of powers, and ordering the charter amendment on the ballot. The Court stated, “To the extent that [HB 463] authorizes and requires boards of elections to make substantive, preenactment legal evaluations, it violates the separation-of-powers doctrine and is unconstitutional.” The charter amendment emerged out of Bowling Green residents’ growing alarm when they learned of the proposed Nexus pipeline threatening their City’s water supply. Students and residents joined together to work with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to draft their charter amendment, which asserts the community’s right to a healthy climate, and bans the pipeline as a violation of that right. Brad Holmes, a Bowling Green University student, celebrated the decision. “When the people rise up and take action to stop climate change, state actors... read more

Citizen Initiative Removes Corporations from Election Campaigns, Caps Campaign Contributions

Youngstown residents submit signatures for their Community Rights Fair Elections Initiative Aug 7, 2017 Youngstown, OH:  Today, a long-standing community rights group in Youngstown, OH, submitted over 1,900 signatures to qualify their Youngstown Fair Election Bill of Rights initiative for the November ballot. The measure is the first of its kind in the state, limiting campaign contributions to registered voters within the City, and capping those contributions at $100. The Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee drafted the initiative with the support of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). CELDF has been assisting Youngstown residents to advance their democratic and environmental rights since 2013, when residents launched their community rights work to protect themselves from fracking activities. Fracking threatens their drinking water and has caused earthquakes in the area. Read... read more

OHCRN Statement: County Boards of Elections Attempt to Stifle Democracy: Meigs, Athens and Medina Counties

Jul 15, 2016 Last summer, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted claimed “unfettered authority” to block county charter initiatives banning fracking. Dozens of residents in four counties collected more than 12,000 signatures of people who wanted to vote on the measures. The Ohio Supreme Court slapped Secretary Husted’s wrist, denying him such authority. Now it it the local Board’s of Elections attempting to stifle the people’s voice and initiatives. Read full... read more

Appeals court hearing Wednesday in Broadview Heights case

CLEVELAND: On January 6th, after repeatedly being denied access to the courtroom, Broadview Heights residents will finally have their day in court.
Since November 2012, when the City’s voters overwhelmingly adopted their Community Bill of Rights charter amendment banning fracking, the people of this Cleveland suburb have been fighting to enforce their amendment and protect their rights to clean air, water, and local self-government.

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Ohio Supreme Court Rules Against Secretary of State

Decides in favor of communities’ right to initiative; bars chief elections officer from keeping duly qualified initiatives off the ballot – even those involving fracking FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 16, 2015 Contact: Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer tish@celdf.org, 440-838-5272   COLUMBUS, OH:  Today, the people’s constitutional right to vote on local County Charter initiatives was upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court. The Court ruled that Ohio Secretary of State John Husted – who claimed “unfettered authority” to keep Home Rule county charter initiatives off the ballot – has no such prerogative.   On August 13th, Mr. Husted blocked citizens from voting on Home Rule Charter initiatives in three counties, declaring, “I find nothing to materially limit the scope of my legal review,” including ruling on the substance of the initiatives. The measures included provisions on fracking infrastructure development, alarming the oil and gas industry. Mr. Husted handed them a victory in his decision to remove the measures from the ballot. In doing so, he trampled on the rights of the people. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) filed a lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State on behalf of community members in Athens, Medina, and Fulton Counties, seeking to restore the initiatives to the November ballot.   In addition to barring Mr. Husted from keeping community measures off the ballot based on substantive review of the content, the Court also ruled that, because the charter initiatives did not create a new form of government, they cannot be on the ballot this November. Communities had kept the existing governmental structure intact, while adding initiative and referendum powers to residents.... read more

Ohio Citizens Protest Against Secretary of State for denying their Constitutional Right to Vote

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 31, 2015 Contact: Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer tish@celdf.org, 440-838-5272   COLUMBUS, OH:  Earlier this month, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted declared that the citizens of Medina, Fulton, and Athens Counties may not vote on their own county charter initiatives, despite meeting requirements to place those initiatives on the November ballot.   Mr. Husted’s ruling has broad implications for the right of initiative in the state of Ohio. Residents intend to make clear to Mr. Husted that his decision to strip communities of their right to vote will not be accepted by the people. Residents from across the state will protest outside the Athletic Club this Wednesday, September 2. The Secretary of State is the keynote speaker at the Metropolitan Club Luncheon that day.   The protest will take place in front of the Athletic Club (136 E. Broad Street) beginning at 11:00 and will continue until the luncheon is over. The group will proceed to the Ohio Supreme Court to make clear to the justices that the people want their initiatives placed on the November ballot.   People in Ohio are realizing that our legal and governing structure does not represent their interests, but rather the moneyed interests of the oil and gas industry. Mr. Husted’s claims of “unfettered authority and being empowered by the Ohio Revised Code” cannot be allowed to stand, denying the people their constitutional right. According to Article 1, Section 2 of the Ohio Constitution, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for their equal protection and benefit and they have the right to alter,... read more

Judge Affirms People’s Right of Initiative, Orders Athens Board of Elections to Place County Charter on Ballot

ATHENS, OH:  An attempt to quash a citizens’ county charter initiative failed in the Common Pleas Court this week. Athens County residents face record amounts of fracking wastewater that is slated to be injected into permitted wells across the county, and are using their initiative powers to protect themselves. Seeking to expand their right to local self-government, and to ban the injection of fracking waste and related activities as a violation of rights, they recently submitted well over the required number of signatures to place their initiative on the November ballot. Read the rest... read more