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Frequently Asked Questions
Contrary to a widely held belief, you cannot find all the answers to your local option questions from the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, your local board of elections, or the office of the Ohio Secretary of State. There is no such thing as a clearinghouse of information on local options. While these agencies are knowledgeable about the process, the individual role of each in the process is limited. It’s precisely this limited role that creates inherent problems for anyone seeking information about local option elections. Through this website, ohioliquoroptions.com has attempted to provide those seeking answers with a clearinghouse of information to enable anyone with ample time and desire to qualify and conduct a successful local option election based upon their own available resources.
There are 2 phases to every local option. The petition phase and the campaign phase. If you seek voter approval by placing a local option question before voters, you also need to educate them about why you want them to vote YES or NO on a liquor issue. This guide discusses both phases of a local option election in their respective orders.
The frequently asked questions that immediately follow are designed to present a broad overview of Ohio’s local option process and the steps necessary to qualify a local option question for voter consideration on Election Day. All possible questions are not included, but this section contains enough information to give the ‘novice’ a solid foundation of information that will be useful in understanding exactly what needs to be done to qualify a local option petition for placement on the next primary or general election ballot. The various steps involved in each process based upon the type of local liquor option pursued follow the FAQ’s. For additional information or a more detailed explanation of specific topics covered in this guide please email us with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Local liquor option elections are necessary for any existing Ohio liquor permit holder wishing to expand their permit privileges or any potential license holder who has a business location in an area of Ohio that is considered to be dry for the sale of the type of beverage alcohol the potential licensee seeks. There are many different types of local option elections, but the most common questions involve the Sunday sale of intoxicating liquor. Local option elections are also critical to retail development projects to allow commercial developers to attract full-service restaurants, grocery stores, pubs, and liquor agencies to their projects.
In order to determine whether or not a business address is “wet” or “dry” we need a starting point. So let’s consider the 1933 vote on the Repeal of Prohibition to be the FIRST local option vote ever held in the state of Ohio. While not technically a local option, the question on the Repeal of Prohibition was expressed through a vote to repeal Section 9 of Article XV of the Ohio Constitution. Essentially, those Ohio subdivisions voting in favor of repeal were considered wet for liquor sales and those voting against repeal were considered dry.
The terms wet and dry may seem all inclusive in the context of liquor sales and local options but they are not. That’s because the vote on the Repeal of Prohibition in 1933 had NO EFFECT on the sale of beer or wine and mixed beverages, for either off-premise or on-premise sales. Pay special attention here.
- Those Ohio precincts voting AGAINST the repeal REMAINED DRY for the sale of Spirituous (high-proof) Liquors, but were WET for the sale of beer, wine, and mixed beverages (low-proof liquors).
- Those Ohio precincts voting FOR the repeal of prohibition BECAME WET for the sale of Spirituous (high-proof) Liquors and all other types of beverage alcohol.
There have been many unnecessary local options held in Ohio due to a misunderstanding of the effect of the vote on the repeal of prohibition as it relates to the sale of beer, wine and mixed beverages based upon a 1935 Ohio Attorney General Opinion as follows:
- LIQUOR CONTROL DEPARTMENT –CLASS D-3, D-4 and D-5 PERMITS MAY NOT BE ISSUED WHEN – ELECTORS VOTED AGAINST REPEAL – LOCAL OPTION –TOWNSHIPS AND MUNICIPALITIES.
- The Department of Liquor Control cannot issue a Class D-3, Class D-4 or Class D-5 permit to the owner or operator of a hotel, restaurant or club which is located in a municipality or in a township exclusive of a municipal corporation wherein the electors at the November, 1933, election voted against the repeal of Section 9 of Article XV of the Ohio Constitution.
- The provisions of Section 6064-17, General Code, which prohibits the issuance by the Department of Liquor Control of Class D-3, Class D-4 and Class D-5 permits in townships and municipalities wherein the electors at the November, 1933, election, voted against the repeal of constitutional prohibition, DOES NOT PREVENT [emphasis added], the Department of Liquor Control from issuing the other classes of permits authorized in Section 6064-15, General Code, which classes of permits in general, allow the manufacture and sale of beer, wine, prepared cocktails, and highballs, malt beverages containing more than 3.2% alcohol by weight and not exceeding 7% alcohol by weight and the sale of wine, alcohol and spirituous liquor by the holder of G permits, subject to the restrictions contained in Sections 6064-15 and 6064-23, General Code.
“…There is no language in the Liquor Control Act or in Section 6064-17, General Code, which provides that the Department of Liquor Control shall not issue Class C-1, Class C-2, Class D-1, Class D-2 and G permits to persons in municipalities and townships wherein a majority of the electors at the November, 1933, election had voted against the repeal of constitutional prohibition in Ohio. Likewise, there is no language in Section 6064-17, General Code, which would indicate that the effect of such a vote was to prohibit the sale of all kinds of intoxicating liquor in such governmental subdivisions, under liquor permits other than Class D-3, D-4 and D-5.”
Columbus, Ohio, November 25, 1935
John W. Bricker, Attorney General
When considering whether to place a local option question on the ballot in order to allow or prohibit the sale of a particular type of alcohol, a petitioner must first determine the current “wet” or “dry” status of the precinct or location within the precinct. The county board of elections will not determine whether an area is “wet” or “dry” so petitioners may as well skip that question altogether when making local option inquires. Likewise, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control won’t tell you the current “wet” or “dry” status of the precinct or location unless you have a valid application for a liquor permit on file with the division.
So in order to determine whether or not your new business venture is located in a “wet” or “dry” area, petitioners need to do the same thing the division of liquor control does to determine their current liquor status. That is – track the precinct history of your location against prior local option votes held that would affect that liquor status. Each address or parcel of ground in the state of Ohio has a current liquor status that can be determined by examining the parcels local option history. Your county board of elections has the voting history for all local option elections held in the county. The results of these past local liquor option elections are the keys to determining whether or not a local option election is necessary. Voter approval, which is a simple majority YES vote on a local option question means the area is “wet” for the sale of the beverage or beverages that was the subject of the local option election. Voter rejection or a NO majority vote on a local option question means the area is “dry” for the sale of the beverages that was the subject of the local option question.
Generally, a local liquor option election is held in a single precinct. An exception to this rule is the “community facility” local option election (defined below in “Effect of Local Option Elections”). A community facility local liquor option is held in the entire municipality or unincorporated area of a township in which the community facility (CF) or “community entertainment district” (CED) is located. In this instance the issue may appear on the ballot in more than one precinct.
Another exception deals with precinct boundary changes after a local option petition has been filed. In this case, the local option election must be held in the area that constituted the original precinct at the time the petition was filed. This could cause the local option issue to appear on the ballot in 2 or more precincts. However, only those voters who constituted the original precinct at the time the petition was circulated, filed and certified for the ballot prior to the boundary change will be able to cast ballots on the issue.
Changes in a precinct’s boundaries become effective only on or after the date on which a majority of the members of the county board of elections has voted to adopt the changes. So with few exceptions, Ohio local liquor option elections are confined to a single precinct. Only electors registered to vote within the precinct where the privilege of selling beverage alcohol is sought are eligible to cast ballots on the local option question
Q. Can Ohio Local Liquor Option Elections be Held at Anytime?
Q. Who else can tell me if a Local Liquor Option is Necessary?
Q. Do I need to hire a lawyer or a consultant?
Q. Where can I find information on the right way to collect voter signatures on a Local Liquor Option petition?
Q. What types of liquor sales are included under Ohio’s Local Liquor Option laws?
Q. Which Liquor Permits are affected by local options and where can I get information about liquor licenses?
Q. Do I really need to know about liquor permits to do a local liquor option election?
Q. What is the role of the Division of Liquor Control in local liquor options?
Q. What happens if I try and lose… can I try again right away?
Q. What are the requirements for placing a local option question on the ballot?
DISCLAIMER: OhioLiquorOptions.com is developed and maintained by OhioLiquorOptions.com, llc., a wholly owned subsidiary of field resource management, inc., the industry leader in the design, development, and implementation of Ohio Liquor Option election campaigns. field resource management, inc. is not affiliated with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office or any Ohio County Board of Elections. All information contained herein is strictly the opinion of field resource management, inc. and is neither intended to be nor considered to be legal advice to any Ohio local option petitioners.