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Ohio Officials Reject Democratic Bid to List Joe Biden on November Ballot

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Ohio Officials Reject Democratic Bid to List Joe Biden on November Ballot

Ohio state officials have rejected a proposal from Democrats to include President Joe Biden on the November ballot, citing the party’s scheduling of its convention beyond a critical state election deadline.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose cautioned Ohio Democrats earlier this month about the risk of Biden not appearing on the Nov. 5 ballot. 

State law necessitates the certification of the ballot 90 days before an election, which falls on Aug. 7 this year − however, the official nomination of the president won’t occur until the Democratic National Convention convenes on Aug. 19.

In a letter addressed to LaRose’s office, obtained by the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, attorney Don McTigue outlined the Democratic Party’s intention to provisionally certify Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris prior to the Aug. 7 deadline.

“If President Biden and Vice President Harris are not listed on the ballot as the Democratic Party candidates, their supporters in Ohio will be stripped of the opportunity to associate with their preferred candidate,” McTigue wrote.

Biden secured a decisive victory in Ohio’s presidential primary, capturing 87% of the vote.

McTigue expressed concern that failure to list President Biden and Vice President Harris on the ballot as Democratic Party candidates would deprive their supporters in Ohio of the opportunity to associate with their preferred candidates.

However, Attorney General Dave Yost’s office countered that provisional approval was not feasible, nor could LaRose unilaterally alter election deadlines.

“Instead, the law requires the Democratic Party to formally certify its presidential and vice-presidential candidates on or before August 7, 2024,” Julie M. Pfeiffer, an attorney representing Yost’s office, informed LaRose’s legal counsel. “No alternative process is permissible.”

Ohio leaves Joe Biden and the Democrats in a bind

Pfeiffer’s correspondence seems to present Democrats with two potential courses of action: either seek assistance from the Legislature or pursue legal recourse.

Lawmakers could enact an exemption to the 90-day deadline by May 9, mirroring the approach taken in 2020 when both parties encountered scheduling conflicts with their conventions. 

However, prospects for this avenue appear dim, with top Democrats indicating their reliance on the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee, while Republican leaders are unlikely to extend a helping hand.

“I believe it’s a matter for the Democrats to address,” remarked Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, during a recent press briefing. “They ought to come up with a Democratic solution. That hasn’t been proposed to me.”

Ohio is not the sole state contending with election deadlines preceding the convention. Alabama and Washington face similar challenges, although Washington’s secretary of state, a Democrat, has signaled a willingness to accept provisional certification, as reported by the Seattle Times. 

In 2020, Oklahoma, Illinois, Washington, and Montana adopted a comparable approach for both parties.

McTigue and a spokesperson for Biden’s campaign declined to provide insights into potential next steps.

“Joe Biden will appear on the ballot in all 50 states,” affirmed a Biden campaign official. “State officials possess the authority to grant provisional ballot access certification prior to the culmination of presidential nominating conventions.”

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