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Removing public officials
Frustration with local school boards, county officials, and other state and local officials is at a boiling point in Ohio. Policies such as mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and coercion of students, residents, employees, and local businesses drive the anger.
Although rarely acted on, there are processes to remove public officials from office following trial. The Ohio Constitution guarantees citizens the right to remove officials at Article II, Section 38. That provision commands the state legislature to set up laws to accomplish that end.
One law that empowers citizens is Revised Code Section 3.07 et seq. here. The first step is to draft a Complaint regarding the abuse of power and obtain signatures on the Complaint equal to or greater than 15% of the qualified electors that voted in the last governor’s election. Qualified electors are registered voters residing in the official’s district. They need not have voted in that election. So any registered voter’s signature will work. Once the signatures are gathered, the Complaint can be filed in the local county’s Court of Common Pleas. A jury demand must be made to get a jury of twelve to hear the case. 9 of 12 jurors must vote for removal for it to occur. The official may appeal the decision.
Another law is found at Revised Code Section 733.72, which provides for removal of municipal officers in a different, easier process which requires 5 electors to sign a complaint. An example filing from a few years ago is here. In that case, which was unsuccessful in the common pleas court, the mayor resigned while the citizens’ appeal was pending.
These types of cases are aggressively contested and the chance of success is probably low. Judges will be put in a position of presiding over a case with vast community awareness and political repercussions. The case will be dependent on jurors pulled from the community in which it is brought so getting 9 of 10 jurors to remove someone who has won elections will be difficult.
But, despite long odds, such efforts may have a salutary effect on local officials. Officials tend to be more responsive when they know citizens are aware of and are exercising their constitutional rights.