Columbus council ward initiative won't make November ballot
A proposed change in the representative structure on Columbus City Council will not appear before voters this fall.
The Franklin County Board of Elections on Monday said petitions calling for a mix of ward and at-large seats on council fell well short of the number of valid signatures needed to make the general election ballot.
Of 26,870 signatures submitted by the Columbus Coalition for Responsive Government, the group pushing the charter change, the board of elections found 8,471 (31.5 percent) to be valid. The Columbus charter required 19,164 signatures – 10 percent of those voting in the most recent municipal election – in order to place the issue on the ballot.
The circulators made several mistakes, said Ben Piscitelli, spokesman for the board of elections. For example, many signatures were ruled illegible and not counted because it was impossible for the board of elections staff to discern the name and address of the person who signed. Other petitions contained nothing but printed names, most of which could not be counted because they could not be compared to signatures on file written in longhand.
“We’ve seen some petitions in the past that had more than their fair share of mistakes and this appears to be one of them,” Pisctelli said.
The board is particularly concerned with 650 signatures rejected as “not genuine” when they didn’t match the signature on a voter registration form or because it appeared signatures for multiple voters were submitted in one handwriting style.
“We’re going to take a look at this to see if these signatures were forged,” he said, noting that this would be a fifth-degree felony.