AG Cordray Applauds U.S. Supreme Court Saying Identities of Ballot Petition Signers are Public Record

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In an 8-1 decision, the court said that states have an "undoubtedly important" interest in preserving the integrity of the electoral process, and it cited Cordray’s brief as demonstrating the important interest. The court then held that the states’ interest in transparency and accountability in the electoral process justifies the general rule that petition signatures should be disclosed.

"We’re pleased that the court has recognized the importance of transparency and the integrity of our election process," said Attorney General Cordray. "Without proper disclosure, the democratic process is open to manipulation by special interests."

John Doe #1 v. Reed questioned whether names on ballot petitions—the signature-gathering mechanism for bypassing the legislature to place an issue on the ballot for voter approval—are a matter of public record. The state of Washington determined that its public records act requires the disclosure of the petition signatures, but a group of signers sued the state. They said the disclosure of their names would infringe upon their constitutionally protected right to speak anonymously and would expose them to harassment.

In April, Cordray filed an amicus brief supporting Washington’s decision to require disclosure of the names of people who sign circulated petitions to put an issue on the ballot. Ohio’s brief, which was joined by 22 other states, explained that disclosure of petition signatures is critical to prevent election fraud, preserve the integrity of elections and promote open government. The brief cited instances of election-related fraud that have occurred during the petition process.

To read the complete U.S. Supreme Court opinion, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/DoeVReed.


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