Ohio’s Franklin County Court of Common Pleas denied the request from Ohioans for Raising the Wage to adjust ballot initiative signature collection requirements, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Ohioans for Raising the Wage is one of the ballot measures supported by The Fairness Project this year. The campaign had asked the court to delay signature collection deadlines, ease collection requirements, or allow for electronic signature collection or signature collection by mail to protect the rights of voters to put a minimum wage increase on the ballot.

In response to the ruling, The Fairness Project’s Executive Director, Jonathan Schleifer released the following statement:

“Our democracy just took a direct hit in the Buckeye state. The court just failed the people of Ohio by refusing to prioritize voters’ voices and allow reasonable accommodations to the ballot petitioning process to meet the challenges we face with COVID-19. The court just cut off a critical path for citizens to go around our broken political system, have a voice in their democracy, and make change. The court has robbed Ohioans of their voice and a chance for 1.4 million people – many on the front lines of the coronavirus response – to win a fairer wage.

This pandemic has brought unprecedented risks to ballot initiative campaigns across the country, shutting down signature collection efforts and bringing ballot campaigns to a grinding halt. Crucial efforts to expand healthcare, secure family leave, and raise the minimum wage — made all the more urgent by this pandemic — are at stake as ballot campaigns are left without a safe means to collect signatures with important deadlines looming.

In this moment, we must protect lives and our democracy, and it’s a false choice to think we have to choose between the two. Too few states have taken the needed steps to protect our democracy, and the court ruling in Ohio puts the rights of voters in November at an even greater risk.”