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What Happens Next as President Joe Biden Hits Hurdle to Make the Ohio Ballot

President Joe Biden easily won Ohio’s primary after he’d already secured enough delegates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

His path to Ohio’s general election ballot could be a little more difficult.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office warned Ohio Democrats last week that Biden is at risk of not making the Nov. 5 ballot. State law requires officials to certify the ballot 90 days before an election, but the president won’t officially be nominated until the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 19. That’s 12 days after the deadline.

Now, Democrats are scrambling to figure out the best path forward. But House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, dismissed doubts about whether Biden will end up on the ballot when all is said and done.

“There are multiple options here, we think,” Russo told reporters on Tuesday. “We have been in conversations with many partners, including the Biden campaign and the DNC. I do not believe that the legislative path is the only option here, and so as those things are explored over the next week or two, more information to come. But (I’m) 100% confident that Joe Biden is going to be on the ballot in Ohio.”

How did we get here?

LaRose spokesman Ben Kindel said election officials discovered the problem as they wrapped up the March primary and began planning for November. Legal counsel for LaRose’s office reached out when staff realized that “the DNC bylaws had not been changed to meet the requirements in Ohio law.”

The letter presented two options: The DNC could reschedule the convention − an unlikely scenario at this point − or the Legislature could pass an exemption to the rule by May 9. Lawmakers shortened the deadline for the 2020 election when both parties scheduled their conventions too late, but that was a one-time fix.

The letter was addressed to the Ohio Democratic Party, Russo and Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio, D-Lakewood. Kindel said LaRose also reached out to Republican legislative leaders, but Antonio criticized him for addressing the letter only to Democrats.

“I think (LaRose) was looking for attention,” Antonio said. “I think he lost a race abysmally. He got some national news coverage, from what I understand, so I guess it served that purpose.”

A spokesman for House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, said LaRose called him about the letter, which he and other GOP leaders are reviewing. A spokesman for Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, declined to comment.

“Upholding the law is not a political game,” Kindel said. “These same people have made it abundantly clear in recent years that laws shouldn’t be ignored or manipulated to influence election outcomes. We’ve reminded them that they’re not in compliance with Ohio’s ballot access laws. They can either point fingers and blame others for their noncompliance, or they can fix it. It’s up to them.”

The DNC did not respond to questions about whether they reviewed state certification deadlines before scheduling the convention. A similar situation is playing out in Alabama.

What happens now?

Ohio Democrats are working closely with the Biden campaign and DNC on potential solutions, but they’re keeping their cards close to their chest. One option could be litigation if state lawmakers decline to take action within the next month.

“We’re monitoring the situation in Ohio and we’re confident that Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states,” a Biden campaign spokesman said.

Antonio said the situation can easily be resolved as long as “we are in a place where people can have fair play and support fair play.”

Source: The Colombus Dispatch



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