ResponsibleOhio, the organization attempting to legalize marijuana in the Buckeye State this November, felt confident weeks ago that they had secured more than enough signatures to secure their cartel-like initiative a spot on the ballot. However, election officials announced on Monday that the group’s proposal might not be addressed in the 2015 election because they are still about 30,000 signatures shy of meeting the state requirement.
Earlier last month, supporters with ResponsibleOhio said that they had managed to collect “in excess of 550,000 signatures,” more than exceeding the qualification conditions to guarantee a spot on the ballot. Yet, the Secretary of State’s office came forward this week, arguing that only about 276,000 of those signatures had been certified. The organization has been given 10 days to gather the rest before the state tosses their initiative in the trash.
“Our team has done an excellent job of collecting signatures from voters across the state who want the chance to repeal failed marijuana prohibition this fall,” ResponsibleOhio executive director Ian James said. “Over the next 10 days, our team of over 200 staffers will be working diligently to collect the remaining 29,509 signatures we need to qualify for the November 2015 ballot.”
Although the group intends to hit the ground running to rectify this discrepancy, they are also contesting the signature count. Organizers with ResponsibleOhio claim that the Secretary of State has misplaced around 40,000 signatures.
“The total number of signatures evaluated by the Boards of Elections is significantly lower than it should be,” James said. “Every single voter who signed this petition has the right to be counted. We will be taking these shortfalls to the Ohio Supreme Court to ensure that those thousands of voices are heard.”
Although this is not the first major hurdle ResponsibleOhio has been forced to contend with, it could be the one that drives a nail in the coffin.
A recent report from the Cleveland Leader indicates that ResponsibeOhio “investors for some time have resisted and often refused to advance tranches to the RO signature collection effort.” Because of this, none of the petition gatherers for the next 10 days are expected to be paid. This could make it a challenge for the group to collect approximately 100,000 signatures in hopes of getting at least 30,000 more certified.
Failure to do so, of course, will result in the question of legal marijuana being left off the Ohio ballot later this year.