130th Ohio General Assembly
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H. B. No. 377  As Introduced
As Introduced

128th General Assembly
Regular Session
2009-2010
H. B. No. 377


Representative Garrison 

Cosponsors: Representatives Okey, Murray, Harris, Domenick, Williams, B., Phillips, Pryor, Goyal, Luckie, Newcomb, Pillich, Slesnick, Dyer, Book, Fende, Yuko, Brown, Chandler, Yates, Winburn, Bolon 



A BILL
To amend sections 2961.01, 3501.38, 3519.05, and 3519.21 and to enact sections 3519.011, 3519.012, and 3519.013 of the Revised Code to prohibit persons who have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to an offense involving identity theft, forgery, or fraud from witnessing or circulating election petitions, to require the circulator statement on election petitions to be notarized, to require entities that provide compensation to circulators of initiative petitions to be licensed, to require such an entity's license to be revoked if it authorizes or knowingly permits violations of the law governing election petitions, to require circulators of initiative petitions to register with the secretary of state, and to provide for public input in the determination of ballot titles.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF OHIO:
Section 1. That sections 2961.01, 3501.38, 3519.05, and 3519.21 be amended and sections 3519.011, 3519.012, and 3519.013 of the Revised Code be enacted to read as follows:
Sec. 2961.01.  (A)(1) A person who pleads guilty to a felony under the laws of this or any other state or the United States and whose plea is accepted by the court or a person against whom a verdict or finding of guilt for committing a felony under any law of that type is returned, unless the plea, verdict, or finding is reversed or annulled, is incompetent to be an elector or juror or to hold an office of honor, trust, or profit.
(2) When any person who under division (A)(1) of this section is incompetent to be an elector or juror or to hold an office of honor, trust, or profit is granted parole, judicial release, or a conditional pardon or is released under a non-jail community control sanction or a post-release control sanction, the person is competent to be an elector during the period of community control, parole, post-release control, or release or until the conditions of the pardon have been performed or have transpired and is competent to be an elector thereafter following final discharge. The full pardon of a person who under division (A)(1) of this section is incompetent to be an elector or juror or to hold an office of honor, trust, or profit restores the rights and privileges so forfeited under division (A)(1) of this section, but a pardon shall not release the person from the costs of a conviction in this state, unless so specified.
(B)(1) A person who pleads guilty to a felony under laws of this state or any other state or the United States and whose plea is accepted by the court or a person against whom a verdict or finding of guilt for committing a felony under any law of that type is returned is incompetent to circulate or serve as a witness for the signing of any declaration of candidacy and petition, voter registration application, or nominating, initiative, referendum, or recall petition.
(2) A person who pleads guilty to an offense involving identity theft, fraud, or forgery under the laws of this state or any other state or the United States and whose plea is accepted by the court, or a person against whom a verdict or finding of guilt for committing an offense involving identity theft, fraud, or forgery under any laws of this state or any other state or the United States is returned, is incompetent to circulate or serve as a witness for the signing of any declaration of candidacy and petition or nominating, initiative, referendum, or recall petition.
(C) As used in this section:
(1) "Community control sanction" has the same meaning as in section 2929.01 of the Revised Code.
(2) "Non-jail community control sanction" means a community control sanction that is neither a term in a community-based correctional facility nor a term in a jail.
(3) "Post-release control" and "post-release control sanction" have the same meanings as in section 2967.01 of the Revised Code.
Sec. 3501.38.  All declarations of candidacy, nominating petitions, or other petitions presented to or filed with the secretary of state or a board of elections or with any other public office for the purpose of becoming a candidate for any nomination or office or for the holding of an election on any issue shall, in addition to meeting the other specific requirements prescribed in the sections of the Revised Code relating to them, be governed by the following rules:
(A) Only electors qualified to vote on the candidacy or issue which is the subject of the petition shall sign a petition. Each signer shall be a registered elector pursuant to section 3503.11 of the Revised Code. The facts of qualification shall be determined as of the date when the petition is filed.
(B) Signatures shall be affixed in ink. Each signer may also print the signer's name, so as to clearly identify the signer's signature.
(C) Each signer shall place on the petition after the signer's name the date of signing and the location of the signer's voting residence, including the street and number if in a municipal corporation or the rural route number, post office address, or township if outside a municipal corporation. The voting address given on the petition shall be the address appearing in the registration records at the board of elections.
(D) Except as otherwise provided in section 3501.382 of the Revised Code, no person shall write any name other than the person's own on any petition. Except as otherwise provided in section 3501.382 of the Revised Code, no person may authorize another to sign for the person. If a petition contains the signature of an elector two or more times, only the first signature shall be counted.
(E)(1) On each petition paper, the circulator shall indicate the number of signatures contained on it, and shall sign a notarized statement made under penalty of election falsification that the circulator witnessed the affixing of every signature, that all signers were to the best of the circulator's knowledge and belief qualified to sign, and that every signature is to the best of the circulator's knowledge and belief the signature of the person whose signature it purports to be or of an attorney in fact acting pursuant to section 3501.382 of the Revised Code. On the circulator's statement for a declaration of candidacy or nominating petition for a person seeking to become a statewide candidate or for a statewide initiative or a statewide referendum petition, the circulator shall identify the circulator's name, the address of the circulator's permanent residence, and the name and address of the person employing the circulator to circulate the petition, if any. On a petition for a statewide initiative, the circulator also shall affirm that the circulator has read and understands the laws pertaining to petition circulation.
(2) As used in division (E) of this section, "statewide candidate" means the joint candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor or a candidate for the office of secretary of state, auditor of state, treasurer of state, or attorney general.
(F) Except as otherwise provided in section 3501.382 of the Revised Code, if a circulator knowingly permits an unqualified person to sign a petition paper or permits a person to write a name other than the person's own on a petition paper, that petition paper is invalid; otherwise, the signature of a person not qualified to sign shall be rejected but shall not invalidate the other valid signatures on the paper.
(G) The circulator of a petition may, before filing it in a public office, strike from it any signature the circulator does not wish to present as a part of the petition.
(H) Any signer of a petition or an attorney in fact acting pursuant to section 3501.382 of the Revised Code on behalf of a signer may remove the signer's signature from that petition at any time before the petition is filed in a public office by striking the signer's name from the petition; no signature may be removed after the petition is filed in any public office.
(I)(1) No alterations, corrections, or additions may be made to a petition after it is filed in a public office.
(2)(a) No declaration of candidacy, nominating petition, or other petition for the purpose of becoming a candidate may be withdrawn after it is filed in a public office. Nothing in this division prohibits a person from withdrawing as a candidate as otherwise provided by law.
(b) No petition presented to or filed with the secretary of state, a board of elections, or any other public office for the purpose of the holding of an election on any question or issue may be resubmitted after it is withdrawn from a public office. Nothing in this division prevents a question or issue petition from being withdrawn by the filing of a written notice of the withdrawal by a majority of the members of the petitioning committee with the same public office with which the petition was filed prior to the sixtieth day before the election at which the question or issue is scheduled to appear on the ballot.
(J) All declarations of candidacy, nominating petitions, or other petitions under this section shall be accompanied by the following statement in boldface capital letters: WHOEVER COMMITS ELECTION FALSIFICATION IS GUILTY OF A FELONY OF THE FIFTH DEGREE.
(K) All separate petition papers shall be filed at the same time, as one instrument.
(L) If a board of elections distributes for use a petition form for a declaration of candidacy, nominating petition, or any type of question or issue petition that does not satisfy the requirements of law as of the date of that distribution, the board shall not invalidate the petition on the basis that the petition form does not satisfy the requirements of law, if the petition otherwise is valid. Division (L) of this section applies only if the candidate received the petition from the board within ninety days of when the petition is required to be filed.
Sec. 3519.011.  The secretary of state shall develop training programs for paid and volunteer circulators of initiative petitions. The training programs shall be conducted in the broadest, most cost-effective manner available to the secretary of state, and by electronic and remote access. The petitioners or the representatives of a petition entity, as defined in section 3519.012 of the Revised Code, shall inform paid and volunteer circulators of the availability of these training programs. A circulator who participates in a training program developed under this section shall be deemed to have complied with the requirement set forth in the circulator's statement that the circulator has read and understands the laws pertaining to petition circulation.
Sec. 3519.012.  (A) As used in this section, "petition entity" means any person or committee that provides compensation to a circulator to circulate an initiative petition.
(B)(1)(a) No petition entity shall provide compensation to a circulator to circulate an initiative petition unless the petition entity first obtains a license from the secretary of state. The secretary of state, by rule, shall establish a process for a petition entity to apply for a license under division (B) of this section.
(b) The secretary of state may deny a petition entity a license if the secretary of state finds that the petition entity or any of the petition entity's principals have been found, in a judicial or administrative proceeding, to have violated the petition laws of this state or any other state and that the violation involves authorizing or knowingly permitting any of the acts set forth in division (B)(3) of this section.
The secretary of state shall deny a petition entity a license if no current representative of the petition entity has completed the training program established by the secretary of state under section 3519.011 of the Revised Code.
(2) The secretary of state may at any time request a petition entity to provide documentation that demonstrates that the petition entity meets the requirements of section 3519.011 of the Revised Code.
(3) The secretary of state shall revoke a petition entity's license if, at any time after receiving a license, a petition entity is determined to no longer be in compliance with the requirements of division (B) of this section or if the petition entity authorized or knowingly permitted any of the following regarding a statewide initiative petition:
(a) Forgery of a registered elector's signature;
(b) Circulation of a petition or part petition by anyone other than the circulator who signs the circulator's statement attached to that petition or part petition;
(c) Use of a false circulator name or address in the circulator's statement;
(d) Payment of money or any thing of value to a person for the purpose of inducing the person to sign or withdraw the person's name from a petition;
(e) Circulation of a petition or part petition by anyone who is not registered as a petition circulator as required under section 3519.013 of the Revised Code; or
(f) Notarization of a petition or part petition outside of the presence of the circulator or without the production of the required identification for notarization.
(C)(1) Any registered elector may file a complaint with the secretary of state of alleging a violation of this section. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the secretary of state shall conduct an adjudication under Chapter 119. of the Revised Code.
(a) If the secretary of state determines that a petition entity has provided compensation to a circulator to circulate an initiative petition without first obtaining a license under this section, the secretary of state shall fine the petition entity an amount not to exceed one hundred dollars per circulator for each day that the circulator or circulators circulated petitions or part petitions on behalf of the unlicensed petition entity.
(b) If the secretary of state determines that a petition entity authorized or knowingly permitted any of the acts set forth in division (B)(3) of this section, the secretary of state shall revoke the petition entity's license for not less than ninety days and not more than one hundred eighty days and invalidate any signatures obtained in violation of that division. If the secretary of state determines that a petition entity authorized or knowingly permitted any of the acts set forth in division (B)(3) of this section for a second or subsequent time, the secretary of state shall revoke the petition entity's license for not less than one hundred eighty days and not more than one year and invalidate any signatures obtained in violation of that division.
The secretary shall consider all circumstances relating to the authorization or permitting of the acts set forth in division (B)(3) of this section when fixing the length of the license revocations.
(2) A petition entity whose license has been revoked may apply for reinstatement of that license, to be effective upon expiration of the term of revocation.
(3) In determining whether to reinstate a license, the secretary of state may consider both of the following:
(a) Whether the petition entity employs or contracts with any person who served as a director, officer, owner, or principal of a petition entity whose license was revoked, the role of that individual in the facts underlying the prior license revocation, and the role of that individual in a petition entity's post-revocation activities;
(b) Any other facts the petition entity presents to the secretary of state, including, but not limited to, remedial actions, if any, that have been implemented to avoid future acts that would violate this section.
(D) The secretary of state shall issue a decision on any application for a new or reinstated license within ten business days after a petition entity files an application. The application shall be on a form prescribed by the secretary of state and shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable license fee, the amount of which the secretary of state shall establish by rule.
(E)(1) A petition entity that receives a license under this section shall register with the secretary of state by providing all of the following information:
(a) The subject matter of and, once finalized, a copy of, any proposed law or constitutional amendment for which a petition will be circulated by circulators coordinated or paid by the petition entity;
(b) The current name, address, telephone number, and electronic mail address of the petition entity; and
(c) The name and signature of the designated agent of the petition entity.
(2) A petition entity shall notify the secretary of state within twenty days of any change in the information submitted pursuant to division (E)(1) of this section.
Sec. 3519.013. Each person who intends to circulate an initiative petition shall, prior to circulating that petition, register as a petition circulator with the secretary of state.
The secretary of state shall, by rule, develop and maintain a registry of all circulators of initiative petitions.
Sec. 3519.05.  If the measure to be submitted proposes a constitutional amendment, the heading of each part of the petition shall be prepared in the following form, and printed in capital letters in type of the approximate size set forth:
"INITIATIVE PETITION
Amendment to the Constitution
Proposed by Initiative Petition
To be submitted directly to the electors"
"Amendment" printed in fourteen-point boldface type shall precede the title, which shall be briefly expressed and printed in eight-point type. The summary shall then be set forth printed in ten-point type, and then shall follow the certification of the attorney general, under proper date, which shall also be printed in ten-point type. The petition shall then set forth the names and addresses of the committee of not less than three nor more than five to represent the petitioners in all matters relating to the petition or its circulation.
Immediately above the heading of the place for signatures on each part of the petition the following notice shall be printed in boldface type:
"NOTICE
Whoever knowingly signs this petition more than once; except as provided in section 3501.382 of the Revised Code, signs a name other than one's own on this petition; or signs this petition when not a qualified voter, is liable to prosecution."
The heading of the place for signatures shall be substantially as follows:
"(Sign with ink. Your name, residence, and date of signing must be given.)

Rural Route or
other Post-
Signature County Township office Address Month Day Year


(Voters who do not live in a municipal corporation should fill in the information called for by headings printed above.)
(Voters who reside in municipal corporations should fill in the information called for by headings printed below.)

City Street
or and
Signature County Village Number Ward Precinct Month Day Year"


The text of the proposed amendment shall be printed in full, immediately following the place for signatures, and shall be prefaced by "Be it resolved by the people of the State of Ohio." Immediately following the text of the proposed amendment must appear the following form:
"I, ........., declare under penalty of election falsification that I am the circulator of the foregoing petition paper containing the signatures of ......... electors, that the signatures appended hereto were made and appended in my presence on the date set opposite each respective name, and are the signatures of the persons whose names they purport to be or of attorneys in fact acting pursuant to section 3501.382 of the Revised Code, and that the electors signing this petition did so with knowledge of the contents of same. I further declare that I have read and understand the laws pertaining to petition circulation. I am employed to circulate this petition by ................................ (Name and address of employer). (The preceding sentence shall be completed as required by section 3501.38 of the Revised Code if the circulator is being employed to circulate the petition.)
(Signed) 
(Address of circulator's permanent residence in this state)

WHOEVER COMMITS ELECTION FALSIFICATION IS GUILTY OF A FELONY OF THE FIFTH DEGREE."
If the measure proposes a law, the heading of each part of the petition shall be prepared as follows:
"INITIATIVE PETITION
Law proposed by initiative petition first to be submitted to the General Assembly."
In all other respects, the form shall be as provided for the submission of a constitutional amendment, except that the text of the proposed law shall be prefaced by "Be it enacted by the people of the state of Ohio."
The form for a supplementary initiative petition shall be the same as that provided for an initiative petition, with the exception that "supplementary" shall precede "initiative" in the title thereof.
The general provisions set forth in this section relative to the form and order of an initiative petition shall be, so far as practical, applicable to a referendum petition, the heading of which shall be as follows:
"REFERENDUM PETITION
To be submitted to the electors for their approval or rejection"
The title, which follows the heading, shall contain a brief legislative history of the law, section, or item of law to be referred. The text of the law so referred shall be followed by the certification of the secretary of state, in accordance with division (B)(2)(b) of section 3519.01 of the Revised Code, that it has been compared with the copy of the enrolled act, on file in the secretary of state's office, containing such law, section, or item of law, and found to be correct.
Sec. 3519.21.  (A) The order in which all propositions, issues, or questions, including proposed laws and constitutional amendments, shall appear on the ballot and the ballot title of all such propositions, issues, or questions shall be determined by the secretary of state in case of propositions to be voted upon in a district larger than a county, and by the board of elections in a county in the case of a proposition to be voted upon in a county or a political subdivision thereof. In preparing such a ballot title the secretary of state or the board shall give do all of the following:
(1) Give a true and impartial statement of the measures measure in such language that the ballot title shall not be likely to create prejudice for or against the measure. The;
(2) Provide for public input on the ballot title before determining the language of the title; and
(3) Permit the person or committee promoting such measure may to submit to the secretary of state or the board a suggested ballot title, which shall be given full consideration by the secretary of state or board in determining the ballot title.
(B) Except as otherwise provided by law, all propositions, issues, or questions submitted to the electors and receiving an affirmative vote of a majority of the votes cast thereon are approved.
Section 2.  That existing sections 2961.01, 3501.38, 3519.05, and 3519.21 of the Revised Code are hereby repealed.
Section 3. This act shall be known as "The Ballot Integrity Act."
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