Ohio Governor, Aiming to Ensure Biden Is on Fall Ballot, Calls Special Legislative Session

Ohio Governor, Aiming to Ensure Biden Is on Fall Ballot, Calls Special Legislative Session


Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio has called a special session of the General Assembly to resolve an issue that the state’s top elections official has said would prevent President Biden from being placed on the November ballot there.

Frank LaRose, the Republican secretary of state, had previously said that he planned to exclude Mr. Biden from the ballot because he would be officially nominated after a deadline for certifying presidential nominees on the ballot. This is usually a minor procedural issue, and states have almost always offered quick solutions to ensure that major presidential candidates are not excluded.

But a legislative fix that would have moved the deadline stalled out after colliding with a partisan clash over foreign donations. Republicans in the Ohio Senate advanced a bill that would resolve the issue but attached a partisan measure that would ban foreign money in state ballot initiatives. The measure went nowhere, and the General Assembly adjourned on Wednesday without a solution in place.

Mr. DeWine, who is also a Republican, said in his statement announcing the special session that the legislature had “failed to take action on this urgent matter,” noting that Ohio had previously passed temporary extensions to its certification deadline for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012 and for President Donald J. Trump in 2020.

The governor said that the special session, which will begin on Tuesday, would be to pass legislation ensuring Mr. Biden is on the ballot, as well as legislation that would “prohibit campaign spending by foreign nationals.” Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Mr. DeWine, said that it would be up to the General Assembly whether the two measures would be in separate bills.

“It is important that when Ohioans cast their vote” for president, Mr. DeWine said, “they have the opportunity to cast a vote for either of the major-party candidates for those offices.”

Mr. LaRose, who had previously pushed for a legislative fix for the issue, lauded Mr. DeWine’s decision in a statement on social media, saying, “I applaud his decisive leadership in calling a special session to resolve this issue for the voters of our state.”

Other states had similar procedural issues this year where the late date of Mr. Biden’s nomination clashed with deadlines to get candidates on the ballot. Those states resolved the issue fairly quickly. In Alabama, for example, the State Legislature overwhelmingly passed a law granting an extension to the deadline. In Washington State, election officials said they would accept a provisional certification of Mr. Biden’s nomination.

But a legislative fix in Ohio had appeared all but dead earlier this week, with Jason Stephens, the House speaker, saying there was “just not the will” to pass a solution in the legislature. In a letter to the Democratic Party this week, Mr. LaRose also said he would not accept a provisional certification, adding that he would “instruct boards of elections to begin preparing ballots that do not include the Democratic Party’s nominees” unless the party offered a “legally acceptable remedy” for the issue.



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