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The Complete Guide to Ohio Local Liquor Option Elections


The information contained on this website describes the Ohio local option process and how to petition and file for any local option election involving the sale of beer and intoxicating liquor. The procedures and requirements for preparing and filing a valid local liquor option petition are outlined here. This guide was originally authored by the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State and edited by Michael D. Ambrose of field resource management, inc. for

This guide is not intended as legal advice to local option petitioners, so references to the Ohio Revised Code sections governing this content have been omitted whenever possible so as not to confuse readers. To view this content in its original format with all relevant Ohio Revised Code sections, please refer to the Guide to Local Liquor Option Elections: Sale of Intoxicating Liquor and Beer published by the Ohio Secretary of State.  All required petition forms cited herein may be downloaded at, or obtained from your local county board of elections or a publisher of legal forms., LLC. was established by field resource management, inc., an industry leader in the design, development, and implementation of Ohio Local Option Elections. field resource management, inc. is not affiliated with the Ohio Division of Liquor Control, the office of the Ohio Secretary of State or any Ohio County Board of Election.

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 “The type of legislation favored by the League is always restrictive. It provides for a vote in the Largest Possible Unit and facilitates the removal of existing saloons as fast as possible, in counties, townships, cities, and villages, wards, precincts, and residence sections… The League proposes that the legislature hand back to the people the privilege of exercising their inherent right to control the liquor traffic.”

William H. Anderson
October 24, 1908




lthough the above quote was given a century ago, it’s every bit as true today as it was the day William Anderson of the Anti Saloon League gave it to describe the type of legislation the Anti Saloon League would support. The notion of restricting sales defines what anyone seeking to conduct a local option election is up against; the privilege of voters to exercise their inherent right to control liquor.

The framework of Ohio’s current Local Option Law were designed by prohibitionist party legislators in concert with the Anti-Saloon League, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and various other groups prior to constitutional prohibition in the late 1800's. During this period, prohibitionist forces in Ohio fought hard to remove liquor sales from "wet saloons" in an effort to promote a "dry way of life.” Well over half the state of Ohio was DRY for all types of liquor sales BEFORE state prohibition was enacted. This was accomplished by using county wide local option laws that were designed to remove beverage alcohol sales in entire counties of the state. Ohio’s original local liquor option laws were never intended to be used as a way to make an area WET for liquor sales.

Following the Repeal of National Prohibition in 1933, some states chose to maintain prohibition within their own borders and some chose to permit local option on the controversial issue beverage alcohol sales. In the remainder of the states, there was no prohibition. Overlying this patchwork of prohibition, many states decided to establish their own monopolies (alcoholic beverage control states) over the wholesaling and/or retailing of alcoholic beverages. Ohio is a ‘control state’, and control they do, through strict regulation of liquor sales and the Ohio Local Liquor Option Process.  Local option elections allow registered voters to vote on the question of whether, and to what extent, alcohol sales and consumption will be allowed within a particular area, usually a precinct. In Ohio, local liquor option elections can specify certain types of alcohol that may be made available within that precinct and whether the alcohol may be consumed on-premises only, off-premises only, or both on- and off-premises. They also determine if, and again to what extent, those beverages may be sold on Sundays.

Over the years the Ohio General Assembly has changed the focus and size of political subdivisions involved in local options, as well as modifying, adding and even repealing certain local option question; but the effects of the outcome of these elections has never been changed. The results of a local option election are always tied to a geographic area or a particular business address rather than being tied to arbitrary precinct boundary lines. This is the only ‘Constant Factor’ in Ohio’s local option laws. Everything else may be subject to interpretation, exemption and change. So know what you’re getting into; Local Liquor Option Elections are not easy!

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DISCLAIMER: is developed and maintained by, 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.