Lucas County Board of Elections stymies voting rights of the people of Toledo, Ohio

Updated August 28, 2018


Tish O’Dell, Ohio Community Organizer

TOLEDO, OH: Today, the Lucas County Board of Elections (BOE) voted to keep a Toledo citizen’s initiative entitled The Lake Erie Bill of Rights off the November ballot, despite residents qualifying the measure.

Lucas County Board members join the Franklin County BOE as part of growing government encroachment on Ohio residents’ right to vote on citizen initiatives. Last week, the Franklin County BOE blocked a rights-based measure from the ballot in Columbus, where residents are using democratic and environmental rights to protect themselves from radioactive fracking waste within the city. Similar actions by BOEs and other government officials began in 2014 in communities such as Athens, Meigs and Medina Counties and the City of Youngstown.

Toledo residents are among eleven million people dependent on Lake Erie for drinking water. Following a 2014 algae bloom that deprived Toledoans of water for three days, community members formed Toledoans for Safe Water and requested the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) assist in drafting a bill of rights for Lake Erie to recognize the Lake’s rights to exist and flourish and to protect drinking water. They gathered nearly 11,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.

“The actions of the Lucas County BOE are shameful, and reveal the sham that we call a democracy. When four members can strip the rights of 314,000 registered voters to cast a ballot on the people’s initiative – that’s called an oligarchy,” stated Markie Miller, a co-founder and leader of the grassroots organization.

She continued, “Meanwhile, Lake Erie is dying. For three decades Lake Erie communities have looked to our representatives to protect the lake and safeguard our water – to no avail. We are done waiting. Across the state, when we begin to take our health, safety, and welfare into our own hands, we are blocked by the very government that we once thought would protect us. This is not over. We are challenging this decision.”

CELDF is representing Toledo and Columbus residents to appeal the BOEs’ votes.

Ohio Communities Part of Growing Movement

Toledo and other Ohio communities working with CELDF are part of the growing Rights of Nature movement across the U.S. and around the world. Nearly thirty communities have adopted similar laws in the U.S. as part of community efforts to stop fracking, factory farming, sewage sludging, and other harms. Rights of Nature are increasingly recognized in courts around the world, including in India, Colombia, Ecuador, and New Zealand.


Additional Information

For additional information regarding petitioning communities, contact CELDF at To learn about the Ohio Community Rights Network, visit To learn about the Community Rights Movement, visit


About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.


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