Biden Will Not Appear on Ohio Ballot Unless Democrats Present Legally Acceptable Solution: Secretary of State LaRose

Ohio’s Republican-controlled state Legislature did not reach agreement on legislation that would have adjusted a deadline to give President Biden ballot access.
Biden Will Not Appear on Ohio Ballot Unless Democrats Present Legally Acceptable Solution: Secretary of State LaRose
President Joe Biden speaks at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington on May 17, 2024. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)
Jeff Louderback

President Joe Biden will not appear on the Ohio general election ballot unless the Democratic party provides a legally acceptable solution, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican.

The deadline for political parties to nominate their presidential candidates is the pressing issue.

According to Ohio law, the deadline is 90 days before the general election. This year, Election Day is Nov. 5, which makes the deadline Aug. 7.

Once passed and signed by the governor, Ohio bills typically take 90 days to become law unless they are accompanied by an emergency clause.

President Biden is expected to be formally nominated for reelection at the Democratic National Convention, which will be held Aug. 19–22 in Chicago.

In April, Mr. LaRose wrote a letter to state Democrat officials warning that President Biden might not qualify for the general election ballot unless Democrats adjust their convention date or convince Republicans to change state law by May 9.

Both chambers of the Republican-controlled state House and Senate appeared to be on the verge of passing a legislative fix to President Biden’s ballot issue. The chambers could not reach an agreement, and they opted not to pass emergency legislation that would have allowed President Biden to appear on the ballot.

State House Speaker Jason Stephens, a Republican, told reporters on May 21 that lawmakers would not find a resolution in time to adjust the state law.

“There’s just not the will to do that from the legislature,“ he said. ”It’s a hyper-political environment at this at this time of year. And there are some Republicans who just didn’t want to vote on it. And there were some who did [want to]. I think there are other alternatives to it, so why create a stir that’s not necessary.”

In a May 21 letter to Liz Walters, who is chairwoman of the Ohio Democratic Party, Mr. LaRose wrote, “Unless your party plans to comply with the statutory deadline, I am duty-bound to instruct boards of elections to begin preparing ballots that do not include the Democratic Party’s nominees for president and vice president of the United States.

“Let me be clear that this is not an action I wish to take, as I believe it to be in the best interest of Ohio voters to have a choice between at least the two major party candidates for the nation’s highest political office.”

The Ohio House of Representatives has refused to act, Mr. LaRose noted, and the Democratic party has “so far offered no legally acceptable remedy.”

Ms. Walters issued a statement accusing Ohio Republican lawmakers of taking away “Ohioans’ ability to choose who they want to be President.”

On May 8, the Ohio Senate voted on party lines to pass legislation that would amend the certification deadline for President Biden’s ballot access while banning foreign contributions to state ballot measure campaigns.

The latter provision’s addition conflicted with the House’s bill from a few days earlier that did not include the attachment.

The House version would add President Biden’s name to the general election ballot and permit additional time for political parties to certify nominees in future presidential elections.

Frank LaRose, Ohio Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, greets his supporters during an event ahead of the primary at the Bender's Farm in Copley, Ohio, on March 18, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Frank LaRose, Ohio Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, greets his supporters during an event ahead of the primary at the Bender's Farm in Copley, Ohio, on March 18, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Mr. LaRose, who ran for Ohio’s Republican U.S. Senate nomination but was defeated by Bernie Moreno in March, said in a statement on May 8 that the easiest way to ensure that President Biden is on the ballot “is to pass temporary legislation that adjusts the deadline by which they can certify their nominee.”

“Democrats are more interested in protecting foreign billionaires who want to bankroll Ohio’s election than getting their presidential candidate on the ballot,” he said.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle—including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican—have said they believe that President Biden’s name will appear on the state’s general election ballot.

State Senate President Matt Huffman, a Republican, has noted that the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that former President Donald Trump be restored to the ballot in Democrat-controlled Colorado and Maine.

National Democrats will have to pursue a different path to get President Biden on the Ohio general election ballot. The Democratic National Committee could move forward with a mini-convention that would nominate President Biden before the 90-day deadline, or it could file legal action.

Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo said she believes that President Biden will appear on the ballot.

“There are multiple pathways to doing that; the legislative fix is not the only path,” Ms. Russo said.

She also said she thought that legislation would be the least likely path because of “hyperpartisanship and infighting.”

Charles Lutvak, a spokesperson for President Biden, said in a statement that the candidate will be on the ballot in all 50 states, though he did not say how the issue in Ohio will be addressed.

President Biden faced a similar situation in Alabama and Washington, Mr. Lutvak pointed out, but those states passed legislation adjusting the deadline.

Ohio has one of the nation’s earliest deadlines for presidential candidates, according to the National Association of Secretaries of State. Most deadlines are in September or October, the organization’s chart of state ballot access laws shows.

Attorney Don McTigue sent a letter to Mr. LaRose’s office saying the Democratic Party would provisionally certify President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris before the Aug. 7 deadline.

President Biden has already gained enough delegates to receive the nomination, Mr. McTigue noted.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office responded that provisional approval is not permitted and that Mr. LaRose cannot change election deadlines.

Jeff Louderback covers news and features on the White House and executive agencies for The Epoch Times. He also reports on Senate and House elections. A professional journalist since 1990, Jeff has a versatile background that includes covering news and politics, business, professional and college sports, and lifestyle topics for regional and national media outlets.