Pubdate: Wed, 12 Aug 2015
Source: Dayton Daily News (OH)
Copyright: 2015 Dayton Daily News
Author: Lynn Hulsey


Ballot Threshold for Legalization Initiative May Have Been Hit.

This newspaper's tally of nearly half of the new petitions turned in 
by ResponsibleOhio shows backers of a constitutional amendment to 
legalize marijuana in Ohio likely will exceed the threshold required 
to place the issue on the November ballot.

A survey of 13 of Ohio's 88 county boards of election - including 
five of the largest - found they had validated 42 percent of the new 
signatures of registered voters turned in by the pro-legalization 
group ResponsibleOhio.

At that rate, the group needs less than 20 percent of the

remaining 48,363 signatures being considered by the state's other 75 
counties to be validated to meet the threshold required to be on the ballot.

ResponsibleOhio in July turned in petitions with 276,082 valid 
signatures, falling 29,509 short of what was required. State law 
allows a second chance to collect enough, so on July 30 the group 
turned in another 95,572 signatures. It needs 31 percent of them to 
be valid for the marijuana issue to make the ballot.

WBNS-10TV of Columbus reported Tuesday that it had surveyed 48 
counties and found that preliminary totals exceeded that figure. 
Tuesday was the deadline for boards to complete their review and send 
results to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Jennifer Redman, spokeswoman for ResponsibleOhio, said "we feel good 
about it," but the group is waiting to get official news from Husted, 
who is expected to announce the final tally of valid signatures by 
the end of the week.

"I can't confirm any signature totals," said Joshua Eck, spokesman 
for Ohio Secretary of State. "Anything that is out there now is 
media-generated and not at all rooted in the actual certification, 
which will be done by the Secretary of State alone."

He also said that Husted's special investigation of the first round 
of petitions turned in by the group is ongoing. Husted said the group 
claimed more signatures than it submitted and there were 
discrepancies between hard-copy petitions turned in by the group and 
what were to be identical electronic copies.

Ian James, ResponsibleOhio executive director, earlier said elections 
officials failed to count 40,000 names and improperly invalidated at 
least 21,000. He threatened to file a complaint with the Ohio Supreme 
Court, but it appears the deadline to do so has passed, according to 
information provided by Eck.

If the latest signatures pass, the required threshold the 
investigation would not keep the issue off the ballot, Eck said. "The 
investigation is entirely separate from the signature validation."

This newspaper surveyed Butler, Warren, Greene, Montgomery, 
Champaign, Miami, Clark, Darke, Preble, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton 
and Lucas county boards of election. Those boards reviewed 47,209 
signatures, finding 58 percent were invalid and 42 percent were 
valid, mirroring the statewide percentages of the first round of 
petitions submitted by ResponsibleOhio.

The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce will make an announcement today 
regarding the ResponsibleOhio initiative, chamber officials announced.

In May, the chamber surveyed its members about their opinions on 
legalizing marijuana in Ohio for recreational or medical use as the 
business organization considered taking a stance on the controversial issue.

ResponsibleOhio's plan calls for naming 10 properties, owned by 
backers of the group, as the only sites where marijuana could be 
manufactured in large indoor grow facilities in Ohio.

The six-question survey sent to members was in response to an 
increase in businesses inquiring about the chamber's position on the 
issue, said Dayton chamber president and CEO Phil Parker.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom