2,208 valid signatures on pot petitions

MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Board Elections approved 2,208 valid signatures received on 486 different petitions submitted to attempt to get an amendment legalizing marijuana on the Nov. 3 ballot. Of the signatures submitted, 1,601 — approximately 40 percent — were considered invalid.

“What was generally the reason for the invalidity?” Board Member Robert Huffman asked.

“Not registered or not registered at their address,” Deputy Director Eric Morgan said.

According to the Associated Press, the group Responsible Ohio has submitted nearly 700,000 petition signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office earlier this month. They must also meet a requirement of signatures in at least 44 of the 88 Ohio counties. They are attempting to get an amendment on the ballot that will legalize marijuana for those 21 years or older and those with certain illnesses. The amendment would also limit the growing to 10 investor-owned locations.

According to Responsible Ohio, if the marijuana legalization amendment is able to take effect, it is expected to create $554 million in new tax revenue by 2020 and approximately 10,000 jobs in Ohio.

The amendment for the legalization of marijuana could also face nullification. According to the Associated Press, Ohio lawmakers approved House Joint Resolution 4 (HJR 4) for the ballot, an amendment banning constitutional amendments from creating a business monopoly. Specifically, it would “prohibit an initiated constitutional amendment that would grant a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel, specify or determine a tax rate, or confer a commercial interest, right, or license to any person or nonpublic entity,” according to the resolution. This would prohibit the marijuana legalization amendment due to the stipulation about the 10 investor-owned growing locations.

If both the marijuana legalization amendment and HJR 4 are approved by voters, HJR 4 is expected to override the marijuana legalization petition. HJR 4, initiated by the legislature, would take effect immediately, while the citizen-originated marijuana legalization amendment would take effect at a later date. With HJR 4 taking place first, the marijuana legalization amendment would reportedly be negated.

Also on the Miami County Board of Elections agenda, Chairman Kelly Gillis discussed the 2015 summer conference. At the conference, Gillis learned that the state will reportedly pay 85 percent of the costs for new poll books.

“With the state paying 85 percent, we’ll save money on not printing the paper,” Morgan said. The poll books could come in the form of tablets or laptops. Miami County would need 105 poll books for the 84 precincts.

The board then brought up the idea of looking at consolidating the voting centers.

“I think that’s something we should explore in the whole county,” Huffman said.

The board also has six candidates for the open director position. The board will be interviewing five of them on Friday.