Libertarian candidates removed from Ohio ballot

From  Ballot Access News, March 7th: 

Ohio Secretary of State Removes Libertarian Party Statewide Candidates from the Libertarian Primary Ballot

On March 7, at the end of the business day, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted revealed that he has removed the Libertarian Party statewide candidates from the party’s primary ballot, including the gubernatorial candidate, Charlie Earl.

Apparently the basis was that the paid petitioner who collected the signatures didn’t fill out the part of the circulator form identifying his employer.

Although Ohio permits write-in votes in primaries, the deadline for anyone to file as a declared write-in candidate for the May 4 primary was 72 days before that primary, or February 23, so it is too late for the Libertarians to find anyone else to run for Governor in their primary. The deadline had been 60 days until 2010, when it was moved to 72 days.

With no gubernatorial candidate on the November ballot, the party will lose its status as a qualified party. The law requires a vote of 2% for the party to remain on the ballot. The party plans to challenge the March 7 ruling in federal court on due process grounds. UPDATE: see this story, which provides more details.

56 thoughts on “Libertarian candidates removed from Ohio ballot

  1. Mark Axinn

    Very unfortunate turn of events.

    I am certain LPO is prepared to fight this latest attempt by Republican thugs to keep Charlie and Steve off the ballot, and look forward to good news soon.

  2. Andy

    “Apparently the basis was that the paid petitioner who collected the signatures didn’t fill out the part of the circulator form identifying his employer.”

    This is a really dumb reason to have disqualified those signatures, but as dumb as it is, you really have to be careful when you do these petition drives to make sure that you are in compliance with all of the state’s stupid requirements.

    I’ve been doing ballot access for a long time, and I have actually looked up the legal requirements online myself and/or called or gone in person to an election office to ask questions to make sure that I knew whether or not we were doing to the petition drive correctly. So I’ve got to wonder, if I had worked on this petition drive in Ohio if I would have found out that that part needed to be filled in and therefore the petition drive would have been successful.

    This is a screwjob, no doubt, but I’m just wondering if it was one that could have been avoided.

  3. Mark Axinn

    Andy–

    In New York, the Republicans always attack the witness first as that is the easiest way to disqualify the entire sheet or worse series of petition sheets.

  4. Richard Winger

    I have a blog post about the wonderful brief Mark Brown filed last night for the Ohio Libertarian Party. I link to it. It is only 20 pages and I hope people will read it. It’s really clear and strong.

  5. Andy

    “Mark Axinn March 8, 2014 at 1:07 pm
    Andy–

    In New York, the Republicans always attack the witness first as that is the easiest way to disqualify the entire sheet or worse series of petition sheets.”

    Witnesses were not an issue in Ohio, because there was no ban on out-of-state petition circulators at the time this petition drive took place.

    The out-of-state petitioner ban in Ohio was tossed out, in November I believe, and this is like the third time in the last several years in Ohio that it had been tossed out.

  6. paulie

    Andy – what Mark is calling witness is what you would call petitioner: the person who witnesses the voter sign and signs off as the circulator.

    There was a witness issue in Ohio, IE the petitioner did not put down Libertarian Party as his employer since he is an independent contractor and the judge ruled he should have put down LP as employer.

  7. Jill Pyeatt

    This is pathetic. The Powers That Be in Ohio are behaving like pouty little children

    I’m sorry to read of this turn of events and, once again, am very sorry that the National Convention has been scheduled in that state, which clearly doesn’t want Libertarians.

  8. Jake Porter

    It would be a damn shame if the LPO candidate for Secretary of State ran radio,TV ads, and did direct mailings talking about how the current Secretary of State was committing election fraud in Ohio by keeping candidates off the ballot.

    When the Republicans play dirty politics we must respond.

  9. Bondurant

    Wow. The GOP tricks in OH are worse than AZ. The silver lining in this is that this is proof they are afraid. Game on! Where can I send a donation to help fight this?

  10. Andy

    “paulie March 8, 2014 at 1:49 pm
    Andy – what Mark is calling witness is what you would call petitioner: the person who witnesses the voter sign and signs off as the circulator.

    There was a witness issue in Ohio, IE the petitioner did not put down Libertarian Party as his employer since he is an independent contractor and the judge ruled he should have put down LP as employer.”

    OK then, either the petition circulator screwed up by not filling that part in, or somebody or somebodies in the Libertarian Party of Ohio screwed up by not telling the petition circulator to fill that part in.

    I agree that this is a stupid reason to throw those signatures out, but you really need to make sure that stuff like that is filled out correctly before you turn it in to the Secretary of State’s office.

  11. Steven Wilson

    Ohio is an excellent state party. It is a shame that in a convention year this happens, but it might be a silver lining. It might strengthen the resolve of the candidates. It might also make headlines about ballot access rules.

    We could turn the convention into a expose about freedom of speech. Vote is speech. The state denies voters freedom. Maybe.

  12. Richard Winger

    I wish people would read Mark Brown’s brief. He shows that in the past, the Secretaries of State and the Ohio state courts have said that petitions are not invalid just because the circulator didn’t list an employer.

    One of the comments above said a judge OKed throwing the candidates off the ballot. That is not true. The Secretary of State and his appointed hearings examiner are the only people who have done that.

  13. paulie

    There was a witness issue in Ohio, IE the petitioner did not put down Libertarian Party as his employer since he is an independent contractor and the judge ruled he should have put down LP as employer.”

    OK then, either the petition circulator screwed up by not filling that part in, or somebody or somebodies in the Libertarian Party of Ohio screwed up by not telling the petition circulator to fill that part in.

    I agree that this is a stupid reason to throw those signatures out, but you really need to make sure that stuff like that is filled out correctly before you turn it in to the Secretary of State’s office.

    http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/90fcf6abee1d4ea99ffa7ce4980fe891/OH–Ohio-Elections-Libertarians

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Two Libertarian candidates for statewide office were tossed from Ohio’s primary ballot on Friday in a state election chief’s ruling that sparked immediate plans for a legal challenge.

    Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a brief statement in disqualifying gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May 6 primary, saying he had adopted a hearing officer’s recommendations.

    The candidates’ nominating petitions were challenged on two grounds: that signature gatherers failed to comply with Ohio laws requiring them to be either Libertarian or political independent and another requiring them to disclose their employer.

    Mark Brown, an attorney for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said the party will challenge the decision in federal court.

    “The Secretary’s requirement that circulators disclose the source of their funding, whether they are employed or independent contractors, violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” he said in an email. “We will seek immediate relief enjoining implementation of this interpretation, which clearly represents a marked change in Ohio’s law and past practices.”

    Brown had argued before hearing officer Bradley Smith, a fellow Capital University law professor, that the ballot protests were an extension of Republican efforts to keep third parties off the state’s ballot.

    Earl could draw votes from Republican Gov. John Kasich in his re-election bid this fall. GOP state chairman Matthew Borges recently told reporters the party helped mount the challenge to Earl’s signatures.

    Protests to the Libertarian candidates asserted Democrats were involved on the other side, managing and carrying out Earl’s signature-gathering effort.

    One petition circulator told Smith during Tuesday’s hearing he’d turned in 10,000 part-petitions over the years in Ohio w and never disclosed an employer, because he was an “independent contractor,” without incident.

    Smith concluded in his 18-page report that the disclosure law must be applied to formal employees as well as independent contractors, in order to protect against fraud.

    “To exempt independent contractors from the disclosure provisions would allow disclosure of paid petitioning to be avoided by the simple expedient of using independent contractors rather than employees,” he wrote.

    On the partisanship argument, Smith declared all Earl’s signature-gatherers were legally qualified.

    Kasich, ahead in polls against likely Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, has faced criticism from tea party activists and other conservatives within the GOP for some of his policy decisions, including backing Medicaid expansion and drilling tax increases.

  14. paulie

    One of the comments above said a judge OKed throwing the candidates off the ballot. That is not true. The Secretary of State and his appointed hearings examiner are the only people who have done that.

    I thought a judge agreed but thanks for the correction.

  15. Matt Cholko

    This is truly unfortunate. I hope like hell the LPO is able to get this decision reversed.

    On a related note, things like this often make me wonder if it is even possible to elect any significant number of Libertarians to office. The majors may just continually tighten the laws, making it impossible.

  16. paulie

    This is truly unfortunate. I hope like hell the LPO is able to get this decision reversed.

    Me too. I read the brief Richard refers to at http://www.ballot-access.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Ohio-fightback.pdf now and I agree the case it makes is strong, but I don’t know if that means it will hold up. I didn’t think the Michigan screw job against Johnson could hold up, but it did. Logically it should not have.

    On a related note, things like this often make me wonder if it is even possible to elect any significant number of Libertarians to office. The majors may just continually tighten the laws, making it impossible.

    They’ll certainly make it harder. At least it is clear they are now fighting us, not ignoring us or laughing at us. In a sense that is already a win.

  17. Andy

    “Richard Winger March 8, 2014 at 5:28 pm
    I wish people would read Mark Brown’s brief. He shows that in the past, the Secretaries of State and the Ohio state courts have said that petitions are not invalid just because the circulator didn’t list an employer.”

    They really should not even use the word employer, since petition circulators generally do not work as employees, they almost always work as independent contractors, and are therefore parties to a contract and NOT employees, which means the people that they work with are NOT employers, but rather are parties to a contract. Given this reality, they ought to at least change the wording to Employer or Contracting Party/Organization.

    The fact that they used the word Employer rather than Contracting Party/Organization could possibly be used as valid grounds for why this was not filled in, as the petition circulator did not have an Employer as they were an independent contractor. Employees and independent contractors are NOT the same thing.

  18. Matt Cholko

    It is very important that we fight these in court if there so long as there is one penny left to do so. The Rs and Ds know they’re making BS claims much of the time, but they know our pockets aren’t very deep, and (rightly) figure that many times we’ll just roll over for financial reasons. The more we roll over, the more likely they are to file BS suits in the future.

  19. Marc Allan Feldman

    This experience has motivated me to look into the feasibility of developing my own petitioning organization. From an idealistic perspective, it might seem better to have volunteers collect signatures. On the other hand, volunteers could design and make campaign signs, too. I think everyone recognizes that using a professional printer lead to a higher quality, less expensive, more effective product.

  20. paulie

    Myself and Andy did offer to go up to Ohio. Many years of experience in the business and we got the bulk of the signatures that gave Ohio LP and other alt parties standing to sue several years ago (2007 I believe) that had put them on the ballot since then. Nothing against Oscar Hatchett, but this was well after it had been re-established that there was no out of state ban in effect and we had time to complete the drive easily. I hope LP wins the injunction, gets on the ballot and gives the Ohio Republicans hell. If you really want to go into the petition business, good luck with your company.

  21. Mark Axinn

    Andy wrote:
    >OK then, either the petition circulator screwed up by not filling that part in, or somebody or somebodies in the Libertarian Party of Ohio screwed up by not telling the petition circulator to fill that part in.

    >I agree that this is a stupid reason to throw those signatures out, but you really need to make sure that stuff like that is filled out correctly before you turn it in to the Secretary of State’s office.

    No shit.

    I don’t know if that happened or not in Ohio, which has a terrific organization, but this demonstrates why is essential to check every witness statement before filing petitions with BOE.

    Many petitioners do not fill that stuff out correctly and often make mistakes. Since many of them like to get paid for their work, checking and properly completing the witness statement from the petitioner is a condition precedent to payment in my state.

    I am not shelling out 40K of member dollars for incomplete work.

  22. paulie

    Nor should you. But really if you read the brief that Richard has on BAN from Mark Brown, I think the argument that the Employer section was optional and/or did not apply to independent contractors is strong. I agree with Richard that people should read it if they are interested in this issue.

  23. Mark Axinn

    Paulie–

    I agree, but Mark Brown is making arguments relating to a specific Ohio law and this specific case.

    Mine is a general point with which all will agree and I will discuss at LSLA: checking petitions when submitted is essential, and in particular, checking the witness section (completed by the petitioner and not the individual signer) is especially essential.

    Every state has lots of bullshit rules for petitioning and they have to be complied with no matter what. Mine has a ton!

    It’s expensive and time-consuming for a state party and candidates to have to petition, and a disaster to be disqualified thereafter for not complying with the fascists’ picayune rules.

  24. Pingback: Libertarian candidates removed from Ohio ballot | Libertarian Hippie

  25. paulie

    I should be more cautious after the 6th screwed us in MI, but I’ll be cautiously optimistic and predict we will get the injunction here, given especially we have two other injunctions in Ohio this year already.

  26. Andy

    “paulie March 9, 2014 at 7:58 am
    Myself and Andy did offer to go up to Ohio.”

    A lot of people here seem to like Paul’s coverage of LNC meetings and state LP conventions. Well, guess what? It cost Paul money to go to these events. If Paul is not working, then he is not making any money. Paul had been out of work for multiple weeks during this time period which we are discussing. It is not as though Paul did not want to work, it is just that nothing was coming together for him. One could say, “He should just get another job.” Yes, but sometimes this is easier said than done. Now he could probably find some other job if he was willing to take anything, but he had not reached that point of desperation, so being that his primary work for almost the last 16 years has been in ballot access, he was waiting to get on the next decent opportunity on a ballot access drive. Paul was ready, willing, and able to go to Ohio, and if he had been able to work there instead of sitting out of work during this time period, then perhaps he’d have the money to make it to another LP state convention or LNC meeting. I know that Paul was going to go to the LP of Georgia State Convention this weekend, but he decided to skip it due to lack of funding, which may not have been an issue if he had not been out of work for so long.

    This is another important point about Libertarians hiring fellow Libertarians to do Libertarian work, and that is that you are keeping the money in the movement, rather than sending the money to somebody who is either an apolitical mercenary, or maybe even an outright political opponent. Some of the money that goes or can go to actual Libertarians to do Libertarian work gets put back into actual forms of Libertarian activism.

    Once again, I realize that it is not always possible to hire Libertarians to do all of the work that the Libertarian Party needs done, but it seems to me that in most cases, there is not enough effort, or even any effort at all a lot of times, to even try to find Libertarians to do the work that needs to be done in the Libertarian Party.

  27. Mark Axinn

    Almost all of my petitioners are registered Libertarians. Some of them registered Republican to support Ron Paul or Democrat to support a local Democrat in NYC, and as the LP is not a recognized party in New York, some of them just never bothered to change their registrations.

    One of my most reliable petitioners is a self-described anti-prohibitionist who prefers not to join any party.

    All of them are registered to vote in New York, as my state does not allow out-of-state petitioners.

  28. Wes Wagner

    When a legal fund is established to appeal/contest this, please let us in the other LPO know.

  29. paulie

    Dunno about legal fund but this was included as the attorney’s contact info on the brief Richard Winger posted:

    Mark R. Brown, Trial Counsel
    Ohio Registration No. 81941
    303 East Broad Street
    Columbus, OH 43215
    (614) 236-6590
    (614) 236-6956 (fax)
    mbrown@law.capital.edu

  30. Steven Wilson

    If the state has ruled to repeal the ban on this issue before, then it should be repealed again, right? So, what is the issue? The prior rulings make this one pretty easy.

    Can a judge reinstate the candidates if this is taken to court based on past rulings? I think that lawyer, Mr. Brown, already made this point. That is how a read it.

  31. Mark Axinn

    Steve–

    I think the stronger argument is that the Secretary of State has for the first time held that the failure of a paid circulator to disclose his source of funding invalidates all of his otherwise facially valid petitions.

    The extreme remedy sought by the State greatly outweighs the alleged harm by failing to disclose who paid the circulator.

    Mr. Brown also makes the excellent argument that no legitimate state interest is served by requiring more information from paid circulators than is required from volunteers.

  32. ATBAFT

    This kind of anti-democratic screw job will probably go unnoticed by the general public
    unless the conventioneers go take over Husted’s office or the capitol rotunda or something.
    Is it time to fight back with civil disobedience ? Time for a Libertarian “Stonewall” event?

  33. paulie

    Hopefully by then we will have the injunction and be back on the ballot.

    But yes, a protest would be good at the convention.

  34. George Phillies - Liberty for America

    Hopefully the LPO will haev a candidate running against the Republican. Hopefully Libertarians around the country will contribute to an attack campaign against the Republican, emphasizing “incompetent”, “dishonest” and other charitable phrasings.

  35. paulie

    Yep. Let’s justify all this effort they are using to keep us off the ballot if and when we finally get back on.

  36. Andy

    “George Phillies – Liberty for America March 10, 2014 at 11:05 am
    Hopefully the LPO will haev a candidate running against the Republican. Hopefully Libertarians around the country will contribute to an attack campaign against the Republican, emphasizing “incompetent”, ‘dishonest’ and other charitable phrasings.”

    Libertarians in Ohio could still run as independent candidates if screw job of keeping them off the ballot does not get overturned. They would need to gather 5,000 valid signatures on an independent candidate petition by May 5th to get on the ballot this way.

  37. Nicholas Sarwark

    Someone may want to write this up as a separate news item, but apparently Roger Stone is going to help Mr. Earl.

    Now I may not trust Mr. Stone as far as I can throw him, but I can confidently say he’s never been accused of bringing a knife to a political gunfight. If the Earl campaign can keep him in the tent pissing outward, I start to feel a twinge of sympathy for the Ohio Republicans.

    That twinge of sympathy has passed. I’m back to my default feelings regarding Republicans: No quarter is asked for and none will be given.

  38. Andy

    “Libertarians in Ohio could still run as independent candidates if screw job ”

    Should read, “Libertarians in Ohio could still run as independent candidates if this screw job…”

  39. paulie

    Libertarians in Ohio could still run as independent candidates if screw job of keeping them off the ballot does not get overturned. They would need to gather 5,000 valid signatures on an independent candidate petition by May 5th to get on the ballot this way.

    Interesting. I wonder if this option is being explored as a backup plan?

  40. Andy

    “Mark Axinn March 9, 2014 at 3:10 pm
    Almost all of my petitioners are registered Libertarians. Some of them registered Republican to support Ron Paul or Democrat to support a local Democrat in NYC, and as the LP is not a recognized party in New York, some of them just never bothered to change their registrations.”

    I’d be curious to find out how many of them are really Libertarians. I only know of one actual Libertarian who has done any paid petitioning work in New York over the last several years on a consistent basis. Maybe there are some others of whom I’m not aware (note that I do pay attention to ballot access drives around the country even if I’m not there, especially if it is a Libertarian Party ballot access drive).

    There are people who go from campaign to campaign claiming to be whatever the person writing their paychecks wants them to be, one petition drive they are Libertarians, the next petition drive they are Greens, the next petition drive they are Republicans, the next petition drive they are Democrats, etc… I mean that they literally tell the client whatever it is they want to hear so they can suck up to them and get a paycheck, but they have no real commitment to any party or ideology themselves beyond wanting to get paid. I’ve met several people on the petitioning circuit over the years who told me that they were libertarians, because they thought that this was what I wanted to hear, and then I later found out that their claim to be libertarians was bullshit. I can pick out the fakes just by talking issues and philosophy with them for a little while, and by observing their behavior.

    I’m not talking about a libertarian working on a petition drive for another party who does not BS the other party about themselves being libertarians, I’m talking about people who literally bullshit clients and pretend to be supporters of their party or cause just so they can suck up to them with the hope of making more money.

    If somebody asks me about my political ideology or party alliance, I respond with something like, “I’m a Libertarian, but I do support having other minor parties and independent candidates on the ballot, because I do not like the “two party system,” and most minor party and independent candidates are better than the typical Democrat or Republican.”

  41. paulie

    http://www.ballot-access.org/2014/03/u-s-district-court-sets-hearing-in-ohio-libertarian-primary-ballot-access-lawsuit/

    U.S. District Court Sets Hearing in Ohio Libertarian Primary Ballot Access Lawsuit
    Published on March 10, 2014, by Richard Winger in Uncategorized.

    On March 10, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson scheduled a hearing in Libertarian Party of Ohio v Husted, for March 11, at 2 p.m. The hearing will consider the Libertarian Party’s new request, filed March 7, for injunctive relief putting the statewide Libertarian candidates back on the party’s primary ballot. The primary is May 6, so speed is essential. The state has not yet responded to the March 7 Libertarian filing, so it is likely the March 11 will set forth the rules by which the case is adjudicated.

    Also on March 10, an attorney for the individual who challenged the Libertarian Party’s gubernatorial ticket filed a request that he be allowed to intervene in the case. UPDATE: see this news story.

    http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2014/03/libertarians_ask_federal_court.html

  42. Kevin Knedler

    Running an independent candidate does NOTHING to keep the LP Brand on the ballot thru a vote test in Ohio. It would cost us money we don’t have. And don’t forget that there is a sore loser law in Ohio and the GOP would probably use that against Charlie. Plus, it is too late to use the write-in ballot option for any other LP candidate for GOvernor. That date came and went a few days ahead of the protest deadline–convenient eh?

  43. Kevin Knedler

    Don’t forget there will be thousands of people down at COMFEST during the LP National COnvention. They probably are not too fond of the GOP to start with.

  44. Kevin Knedler

    FACTS EVERYONE–from Ohio. When is the last time a MINOR party had a Governor candidate ON the Ohio November ballot for TWO election cycles in a row? The Ohio SOS records online only go back to 1940. So I used other sources and it was the Socialists back in 1905-1909 period. Our beloved RIchard Winger said it was the COmmunists back in 1934-1936 period. WHatever it was, it was about 80 years ago to maybe 105 years ago! This is what we are up against in the state of OHIO. Pathetic and I was born here.

  45. Andy

    Kevin Knedler March 10, 2014 at 3:13 pm said: “And don’t forget that there is a sore loser law in Ohio and the GOP would probably use that against Charlie.”

    I would think that the Sore Loser law would not apply to a candidate who petitioned to get on the ballot for the primaries, but did not have enough signatures that were deemed valid to be on the ballot for the primaries. Sore Loser laws are aimed at candidates who lost in the primaries, and you can’t lose in the primaries if you are not on the ballot in the primaries.

  46. Kevin Knedler

    Andy it is still too late to have him as a write-in. Like I said, our ballot access is based on Governor election and if he runs as an independent, and even if he WON, the LP will be removed from the rolls as an official party in Ohio.

  47. Marc Allan Feldman

    It is not hard to imagine that if the petitioners put the LP as their employer, the secretary of state might have thrown out the petitions as fraudulent, because they were not employees, but only independent contractors!

  48. Steven Wilson

    The LP Convention could still be used as a protest center. With so many present, a simple parade downtown with marchers wearing gags and T shirts reading “Ohio considers me a legal voter” might get national media attention about the ballot access and the courts. Have three media people ready to explain prior rulings in a calm professional manner.

    Branding can take place at any time. Plan properly and make the negative a positive.

  49. Andy

    “Steven Wilson March 10, 2014 at 6:05 pm
    The LP Convention could still be used as a protest center. With so many present, a simple parade downtown with marchers wearing gags and T shirts reading ‘Ohio considers me a legal voter’ might get national media attention about the ballot access and the courts. Have three media people ready to explain prior rulings in a calm professional manner.”

    Great idea! The LP National Convention in Columbus, OH this year is going to be going on at the same time as Commfest (short for Community Festival), which is a huge annual festival in Columbus, and apparently the hotel where the convention is going to be at is walking distance from Commfest. Libertarians should definitely have a presence at Commfest. I know that in the past, the Libertarian Party of Ohio has purchased booths at Commfest. I petitioned there for the Libertarian Party of Ohio back in 2007 and it was a great event.

    I tried to organize a protest in front of the Federal Reserve Bank in Denver, Colorado for the 2008 LP National Convention (the convention site was walking distance from a Federal Reserve branch), but unfortunately I failed to generate enough interest in doing it and it never ended up happening.

    I think that it would be absolutely foolish for the Libertarian Party to not try to do something to raise awareness about the party at Commfest.

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