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New Filings in Ohio Libertarian Party Primary Ballot Access Case

New filings entered on March 20 and March 21 in Libertarian Party of Ohio v Husted include documents explaining that the party’s appeal to the Sixth Circuit need not be decided immediately. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson issued a supplemental order on March 20, which says that if the Sixth Circuit reverses him and puts the statewide Libertarian candidates on the party’s primary ballot, there is ample time to do that.

This is because some counties in Ohio use touch-screen ballots. A name can be added to a ballot on a touch-screen computer only days before the election is to be held. The Ohio primary is May 6. Because there are no declared write-in candidates for Governor in the Ohio Libertarian primary (and it is too late for any to emerge now), and because Earl is the only candidate who filed a petition to be on the primary ballot, if his name is added to the electronic ballot shortly before the primary, he will the primary winner by default. He only needs one vote to be declared the victor. Normally, when a candidate is left off the ballot in most parts of the state, that is a serious blow; but in this case, it is not.

The attorney for the individual who challenged Earl’s petition filed a brief on March 21. That brief makes the same point, and says there is no time emergency. The brief also defends the constitutionality of the Ohio law that requires circulators to list their employer on each petition sheet. The challenger’s brief says that the privacy of circulators is not injured by that requirement, because anyone can always look at the candidate’s financial disclosure report and find out the name of the individual or group paying for the petition. But this argument cuts the other way. If the state’s interest in knowing who paid for the petitioning can be satisfied by the candidate’s disclosure report, why does the state also need this information on each petition sheet?

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