Section 307.95 | Determining validity of petitions.
(A) When a county charter petition has been certified to the board of elections pursuant to section 307.94 of the Revised Code, the board shall immediately proceed to determine whether the petition and the signatures on the petition meet the requirements of law, including section 3501.38 of the Revised Code, and to count the number of valid signatures. The board shall note opposite each invalid signature the reason for the invalidity. The board shall complete its examination of the petition and the signatures not later than ten days after receipt of the petition certified by the board of county commissioners and shall submit a report to the board of county commissioners not less than one hundred days before the election certifying whether the petition is valid or invalid and, if invalid, the reasons for the invalidity, whether there are sufficient valid signatures, and the number of valid and invalid signatures. The petition and a copy of the report to the board of county commissioners shall be available for public inspection at the board of elections. If the petition is determined by the board of elections to be valid but the number of valid signatures is insufficient, the board of county commissioners shall immediately notify the committee for the petitioners, who may solicit and file additional signatures to the petition pursuant to division (E) of this section or protest the board of election's findings pursuant to division (B) of this section, or both.
(B) Protests against the findings of the board of elections concerning the validity or invalidity of a county charter petition or any signature on such petition may be filed by any elector eligible to vote at the next general election with the board of elections not later than four p.m. of the ninety-seventh day before the election. Each protest shall identify the part of, or omission from, the petition or the signature or signatures to which the protest is directed, and shall set forth specifically the reason for the protest. A protest must be in writing, signed by the elector making the protest, and shall include the protestor's address. Each protest shall be filed in duplicate.
(C) The board of elections shall deliver or mail by certified mail one copy of each protest filed with it to the secretary of state. The secretary of state, within ten days after receipt of the protests, shall determine the sufficiency or insufficiency of the signatures and the validity or invalidity of the petition, including whether the petition conforms to the requirements set forth in Section 3 of Article X and Section 3 of Article XVIII of the Ohio Constitution, including the exercise of only those powers that have vested in, and the performance of all duties imposed upon counties and county offices by law, and whether the petition satisfies the statutory prerequisites to place the issue on the ballot. The petition shall be invalid if any portion of the petition is not within the initiative power. The secretary of state may determine whether to permit matters not raised by protest to be considered in determining such validity or invalidity or sufficiency or insufficiency, and may conduct hearings, either in Columbus or in the county where the county charter petition is filed. The determination by the secretary of state is final.
(D) The secretary of state shall notify the board of elections of the determination made under division (C) of this section not later than four p.m. of the eighty-first day before the election. If the petition is determined to be valid and to contain sufficient valid signatures, the charter shall be placed on the ballot at the next general election. If the petition is determined to be invalid, the secretary of state shall so notify the board of county commissioners and the board of county commissioners shall notify the committee. If the petition is determined by the secretary of state to be valid but the number of valid signatures is insufficient, the board of elections shall immediately notify the committee for the petitioners and the committee shall be allowed ten additional days after such notification to solicit and file additional signatures to the petition subject to division (E) of this section.
(E) All additional signatures solicited pursuant to division (A) or (D) of this section shall be filed with the board of elections not less than seventy days before the election. The board of elections shall examine and determine the validity or invalidity of the additional separate petition papers and of the signatures thereon, and its determination is final. No valid signature on an additional separate petition paper that is the same as a valid signature on an original separate petition paper shall be counted. The number of valid signatures on the original separate petition papers and the additional separate petition papers shall be added together to determine whether there are sufficient valid signatures. If the number of valid signatures is sufficient and the additional separate petition papers otherwise valid, the charter shall be placed on the ballot at the next general election. If not, the board of elections shall notify the county commissioners, and the commissioners shall notify the committee.