WOOSTER, Ohio — Signatures gathered by the Humane Society of the United States and other members of the 2010 ballot campaign called Ohioans for Humane Farms have yet to be validated.
“We don’t have any signatures from them yet,” Luisa Barone, communication specialist with the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, said on March 8.
That’s because HSUS decided not to file, after Ohio’s farm commodity groups and the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation forged a deal with HSUS known as “The Agreement.” It was announced June 30, 2010, the same day the organization was to submit its signatures if it wanted to appear on the November, 2010 ballot.
The agreement specified the parties would agree to recommend certain provisions to the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, and to the legislature concerning “dangerous” animals, in exchange for not pursuing a ballot initiative.
Now that the board is considering an alteration of the agreement’s recommentations, HSUS and its supporters are reminding the board of its 500,000 unofficial signatures, and the renewed threat of a ballot initiative.
HSUS needed a minimum of 402,275 signatures in 2010 and had hoped to get at least 600,000, to be safe. The unofficial signatures HSUS collected represent about 6 percent of Ohio’s 8 million registered voters.
They can still be submitted, Barone said.
But there are restrictions — namely — the signatures are good only for the petition for which they were collected.
“It would be the same petition from last year that they’ve already certified with the attorney general,” Barone said.
If HSUS wants to pursue a different ballot initiative, it will need to certify a new petition, and complete the whole process again, including re-collecting signatures.
Barone said the longer an organization waits, typically the fewer valid signatures it will have, due to people moving out of the state, and other issues affecting validity.
Patrick Galloway, director of communications for former Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, told Farm and Dairy in June that a group typically turns in double the number of signatures needed.
He added that, in his experience, when the group shoots for double the number needed, it usually works out and the group has enough valid signatures.
Because of the small margin, he said he was doubtful that Ohioans for Humane Farms would have made it.