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  • Writer's pictureOliver Hall

Business Insider Piece Exposes the Difficulty of Petitioning During a Pandemic

This spring, CCD filed a lawsuit to challenge Ohio's strict enforcement of its in-person petitioning requirements as applied during the Covid-19 pandemic. The District Court granted a preliminary injunction, finding that such enforcement "severely burden[s]" the plaintiffs' First Amendment rights. The Sixth Circuit reversed, concluding that Ohio's requirements "impose, at most, only an intermediate burden...." The Sixth Circuit considered plaintiffs' challenge "a curious one" given that Ohio is not responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now Jordan Walker of Business Insider has published a piece shedding light on the difficulty of petitioning during a pandemic. The problem arises because Ohio, like many other states, has not updated its ballot access procedures in more than 100 years. As a result, citizens who wish to place initiatives on the ballot still must collect signatures by hand on paper nomination petitions, just as they did when Ohio first adopted its ballot access procedures in 1912.

Unlike Ohio, many states quickly moved to adopt electronic petitioning procedures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They were able to do so without disrupting their electoral processes. If there's one thing this public health crisis has made clear, it's that such reforms are long overdue and should be made permanent. States have no reason to require that citizens use 17th Century technology to qualify for the ballot in 21st Century elections.

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