On October 18, the Ohio Attorney General’s office filed a brief in support of Ohio’s ban on out-of-state circulators, in Citizens in Charge v Husted, 2:13cv-935, s.d. The state says that the ban is needed because it has a short time frame in which to check the validity of petitions, and if it needs to subpoena circulators, if the circulator is out-of-state, that process would take a long time.
This is illogical for several reasons. The most important is that Ohio doesn’t need to subpoena circulators, whether in-state or out-of-state, to check the validity of petition signatures. Furthermore, Ohio law already permits out-of-state circulators to work on independent presidential candidate petitions, and the state’s brief doesn’t explain how Ohio copes with checking that type of petition.
Also, the brief hints that out-of-state circulators who work on initiative petitions are interfering with the ability of Ohio residents to decide their own policies without outside interference. And the brief says there is a reasonable chance that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear Virginia’s pending appeal in the U.S. Supreme Court on a similar issue. Of course, even if the U.S. Supreme Court decided to hear that case, it would not be decided until mid-2014, and in the meantime, the Ohio plaintiff that is trying to circulate an initiative petition would not have the benefit of a decision for the next nine months, and would not be able to qualify its initiative for the 2014 ballot unless it used only in-state circulators.