UPDATE: Added explanatory material:
The Ohio House passed a version that would require petitioning at 1% of the most recent vote for governor or president to be submitted by 90 days before a primary election. The Ohio Senate passed a version that would require petitioning at 1/4% of the most recent vote for governor or president to be submitted by 100 days before a primary election and an additional 1/4% by 90 days before a primary election.
Although the House version of the bill moves the presidential primary permanently to May, the Senate version leaves presidential primary elections in March. Non-presidential primary elections are always held in May.
Neither bill addressed ballot access retention thresholds or ballot access duration.
The petitioning thresholds are established in Ohio Revised Code section 3517.01. The text of the language passed by the legislature is available online through the Ohio Legislative Services Commission, it is SB 148 and HB 194.
From a media release sent to IPR on May 25, 2011, by Todd Grayson, Communications Director for the Libertarian Party of Ohio:
[Ohio] General Assembly violates US Constitution; Strips Ohio military personnel (and all citizens) of basic freedoms
COLUMBUS — Yesterday, the Ohio Senate joined the House in telling our armed services and veterans that their Constitutional rights are of less importance than the GOP’s grip on power. Despite three ongoing conflicts in the Middle East to impose democracy and free elections, the brave men and women serving from Ohio will come home to find that free and open elections in their own towns have been gutted in their absence.
“I served in the Army for several years, and I took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution to do so,” said Columbus city council candidate Bob Bridges. “I was under the impression that legislators had to do the same, but today the Republicans who voted for this bill demonstrated that their own quest for power is more important to them than my rights as an American citizen.”
The fight for fair and open elections has been an ongoing battle in America for decades, but in recent years a great deal of progress had been made. Ohio’s laws that stripped voters of their First Amendment right of freedom of association and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal treatment under the law were struck down when the Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO) sued then-Secretary of State Ken Blackwell in 2006. His successor, Secretary Brunner, attempted to resolve the situation by reducing the barriers to open and free elections. Her solution also proved to be in conflict with our nations founding documents.
Now the General Assembly has turned back the clock, passing legislation more burdensome than the solution proposed by Secretary Brunner. Despite testimony from LPO Vice Chair Michael Johnston, both the House and Senate included unconstitutional restrictions on freedom of association and equal treatment under the law. Libertarian candidates in 2010 earned an average of more then 5% of the votes in their races, aggregating more than one million votes in total.
“This is turning into a bit of a trend with this legislature,” noted Johnston. “First they came for the Democrats, now they’re coming for all the other political parties, who else other than the citizens of Ohio will be left to get hit by John Kasich’s bus?” Johnston also noted that recent polls have showed that more than half of self-identified GOP voter support a multi-party system. “The Republicans preach free market ideas, but they really can’t seem to deal with the reality of allowing people to freely choose from multiple options at a ballot box in America. They campaign like Libertarians, then many of them try to govern more like the Chicago Democratic machine.”
The LPO has consistently pushed for fair ballot access over the years, and below are some of the key recommendations that have been offered:
- Ohio’s legislature passed an unconstitutional violation of voters’ rights over the objections and testimony of the Libertarian Party of Ohio. The LPO has repeatedly requested a petitioning threshold of 1/4%. The House passed a version at 1%, the Senate passed a version that totals 1/2%. Both have already been struck down as illegal.
- The LPO has requested that the petitioning be based upon the votes for governor. Both the House and Senate use the most recent of either governor or president, creating a 50% fluctuating threshold depending on the year.
- The LPO has repeatedly requested that the period for ballot qualification be extended from 2 years to 4 years. Neither chamber addressed this.
- Political parties remain on the ballot by earning 5% for governor or president. The LPO has repeatedly asked that this be lowered to 1% for any statewide partisan office. Neither chamber addressed this.
The Ohio House passed ALL of the above requests in Am. Sub. HB 260 in the previous session, without comment or debate by any legislator during the floor debate.
The Libertarian Party of Ohio is the third-largest political party in Ohio. In 2010 the LPO ran the first full statewide executive slate for any third party in Ohio since 1934. LPO candidate for Treasurer of State, Matt Cantrell, earned the endorsement of the Cleveland Plain Dealer for being the only candidate in that race with a solid plan to run the office. To join or support the ongoing efforts of the Libertarian Party of Ohio to protect your freedom, please visit www.LPO.org.
Todd Grayson, Communications Director
Libertarian Party of Ohio
937.422.7522 (cell, if out)