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Ohio Bill Would Remove Four Minor Parties from 2014 Ballot

Ohio State Senator Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) has introduced SB 193, to revise Ohio’s ballot access laws for minor parties. Senator Seitz tells the press that his bill liberalizes the law, but it doesn’t. It keeps the number of signatures now required (1% of the last vote cast), but it adds a distribution requirement. Party petitions would need at least 500 valid signatures from each of half of the U.S. House districts.

Current law provides that the petition to qualify a new party need not list the party’s nominees, but the bill would say that the petition must list them, even the presidential and vice-presidential nominees. Since the party petition would be due at the end of June, and because it takes time to complete a petition of 55,809 valid signatures, this means the party would be required to have chosen its presidential nominee before the petition starts. The 2014 petition would be 55,089, but at this time no one can know what the 2016 requirement would be because no one knows how many votes will be cast in 2014.

Current law says the party petition is due three months before the primary date. The primary is in March in presidential years and May in other years. That deadline was held unconstitutional in 2006. Because the legislature has never changed it, the state has allowed all political parties that can show a modicum of support to appear on the ballot with no petition, ever since 2008. The bill changes the petition deadline to 125 days before the general election. This is the only part of the bill that improves the law, but since the state’s old deadline has been invalidated, this part of the bill isn’t really a gain.

The bill says that even after a newly-qualifying party submits its petition, it isn’t finished petitioning. The bill also requires separate candidate petitions for each of the candidates named on the petition. Statewide candidates would need 500 signatures; district candidates would need 25 signatures. These separate candidate petitions are utterly illogical, since the candidates have already shown they have voter support by the success of the party petition.

The bill lowers the vote test from 5% of the vote for the top of the ticket, to 3% for the top of the ticket. It would still be necessary for a party to meet the vote test every two years. By comparison, almost half the states only apply a vote test every four years. Also a slight majority of states let the vote for any statewide race count, but under this bill, Ohio would continue its policy in which only the vote for President and Governor count.

Parties that have been recognized without any petition starting in 2008 in Ohio are the Americans Elect, Constitution, Libertarian, Green, and Socialist Parties. If SB 193 is enacted this year, those parties would be removed from the 2014 ballot, although Americans Elect isn’t recognized in any event because it asked to be removed.

7 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    After the 2000-2012 Prez gerrymander elections have the Donkey and Elephant HQs in Devil City given orders

    - WIPE OUT the third parties or else (i.e. gerrymander death for any incumbent D/E) ???

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V. — before it is too late and the MONSTERS start Civil WAR II.

  2. Andy

    “That deadline was held unconstitutional in 2006.”

    I thought that the Ohio ballot access law was thrown out in 2007 or 2008.

    • The Ohio decision was September 6, 2006. The late summer of 2006 was a heavenly period for winning ballot access lawsuits. The Arkansas petition for new parties was struck down on August 23, 2006. The top-two system in Washington state was truck down on August 22, 2006. The New York petition requirements in primaries for delegates to party judicial nominating conventions was struck down on August 30, 2006. The Ohio victory was September 6, 2006. On September 18, 2006, the Illinois signature requirement for independent candidates for the legislature (10%) was struck down, as was the early deadline for all non-presidential independent candidates. August and September 2006 were heavenly months.

  3. Jim Riley

    It is quite unlikely that a party could get 58,000 signatures statewide, without getting 500 in 8 districts. If they somehow managed to get 499 signatures in 9 districts, they would have to average 7600 in the other 7 districts.

    The problem with the proposed system is that they are trying to do nominations without actually having a nominating activity such as a primary or convention. They are partially reversing the order, requiring the nominees to appear on the party petition, and then having the candidates file the petition that they would need to get on the primary ballot.

    If you didn’t have individual petitions, the nominee for the 82nd district might not actually have the in-district support, and be imposed by the party bosses.

    You could drop the requirement to have the candidates on the party petition, but there would be a potential for multiple “nominees” qualifying. This might be resolved by permitting petition contests, where a candidate with the most signatures is placed on the general election ballot. This might encourage would-be candidates to circulate for both petitions – in effect, a street convention.

    Alternatively, you could permit voters to affiliate with a new party at the primary. If 1% of primary voters affiliate the party, it qualifies. Otherwise they could supplement this with attendees at conventions.

    But the simplest solution is to eliminate party nominations. All candidates would qualify for the general election ballot.

  4. Andy

    “The Ohio decision was September 6, 2006.”

    Wasn’t there some kind of court ruling in regard to ballot access for parties that happened in Ohio in 2007 or 2008?

    • Richard Winger

      On July 17, 2008, a US District Court put the Libertarian Party on in Ohio because the party showed it had a modicum of support.

  5. Kevin Knedler

    6,800 Ohio citizens are registered with the LP in Ohio , via a primary from 2010 and 2012. Only way to register with party in Ohio is with a primary.

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