Budget Bill Changes Election Law

Among the myriad of policy revisions effected by Amended Substitute House Bill 64, the budget bill, were two election law changes with an impact on school districts and other local political subdivisions.

As of September 29, 2015, state law now reduces the number of times per year that a taxing district may place an issue before voters by eliminating special elections in February. Tax issues may appear on the ballot only on the day of a primary or general election (in May and November of most years) or in August. (In presidential election years, those elections must be held on the second Tuesday after the first Monday of March, and there is no vote in February.)

The second major change involves paying for the cost of a special election. Law now provides that a political subdivision must prepay 65% of the estimated cost of holding such an election, and the payment is due not less than ten business days following the deadline for placing the issue on the ballot.

Each county board of elections must prepare an estimate of the cost and file it with the county commissioners and the Ohio Secretary of State not fewer than 15 business days before the filing deadline for the issue.

There are two different methods for calculating the cost. One is to multiply the number of registered voters in the taxing district by the estimated cost per voter. The other method for calculating the election is to multiply the cost per precinct by the number of precincts what will be open for the election.

Following the election, the board of elections within 60 days must provide to the district the true and accurate cost for the issue submitted to the voters. If the cost was greater than the prepayment, the district must remit the balance within 30 days of receiving the final bill.