May 10, 2024 - News

Biden's Ohio ballot conundrum, explained

Joe Biden speaks at a presidential lectern.

President Biden speaks at Max S. Hayes High School in Cleveland in 2022. Photo: Angelo Merendino/Getty Images

A procedural issue could keep President Biden off the Ohio ballot in November, but Democrats are confident a solution can be found.

Why it matters: It would be unprecedented for a major party candidate to be left off the ballot, and it would have disastrous consequences for other Democrats up for election.

Catch up quick: Ohio election law requires political parties to certify the presidential ticket by Aug. 7.

  • But the Democratic National Convention in Chicago ā€” where Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will be officially renominated ā€” is scheduled for Aug. 19-22.

State of play: Democrats aren't changing the convention dates, meaning it's up to the Ohio Legislature to change the law to get Biden on the ballot.

  • This issue has come up in past election cycles.
  • In those cases, lawmakers simply changed the deadline for parties to certify candidates' names to the Ohio secretary of state.

The latest: Both parties in the GOP-controlled Statehouse have expressed public support for ensuring Biden's access, but negotiations have not gone smoothly.

  • Republicans recently attempted to pair this with rules banning foreign contributions to ballot-issue campaigns and requiring organizers of such campaigns to register as political action committees.
  • Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican who oversees the state's elections, supports this effort.

What they're saying: "Any legislative fix for Biden should be paired with a GOP policy priority," Rep. Brian Stewart, R-Ashville, wrote on X.

The other side: Democratic lawmakers criticized the ostensible compromise, per the Ohio Capital Journal, with state Sen. Bill DeMora, D-Columbus, calling it "irrelevant partisan nonsense."

  • Biden's campaign insists the president will make the ballot in all 50 states.
  • Gov. Mike DeWine, who would need to sign the bill for it to become law, has asserted Biden will reach the ballot.
A tweet from reporter Jim Provance reading, "DeWine: Not a "snowball's chance in hell" that Biden won't be on Ohio ballot."
Via X.

What we're watching: If lawmakers will continue working on an agreement.

  • With the clock ticking, it will require a two-thirds majority vote to pass as an emergency measure and thereby be enacted before the existing Aug. 7 deadline.
  • Democrats are floating one other option if Statehouse negotiations fail: contesting the ballot snafu in the courts.

Between the lines: Other Democrats on the ballot, like Sherrod Brown, would suffer greatly without a boost in presidential vote turnout.

  • Brown faces Republican challenger Bernie Moreno in a crucial race that could swing the balance of the U.S. Senate.

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