Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Calls Special Session to Get Biden on State Ballot

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine Calls Special Session to Get Biden on State Ballot
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks in Columbus, Ohio, on May 23, 2024. (Patrick Orsagos/AP Photo)

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine summoned lawmakers back to Columbus for a rare special session on May 28 to get President Joe Biden on the November ballot and prohibit campaign spending by foreign citizens on ballot issues.

“Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting president of the United States, on the ballot this fall. Failing to do so is simply not acceptable. This is a ridiculous—this is an absurd—situation,” Mr. DeWine, a Republican, said during a May 23 press conference.

According to Ohio law, officials must certify the November ballot on Aug. 7, 90 days before Election Day, which this year is Nov. 5.

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, Ohio Secretary of State 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.

The state House and Senate appeared to be on the verge of passing a legislative fix to President Biden’s ballot issue earlier this month. 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.

A bill from the House would add President Biden’s name to the general election ballot and allow additional time for political parties to certify nominees in future presidential elections.

The Senate passed a bill that adjusted the deadline, placed President Biden on the ballot, and banned foreign spending on state ballot issues.

House Speaker Jason Stephens, a Republican, chose to adjourn the May 8 session instead of calling for a vote on the measure, drawing the ire of many conservative lawmakers in the chamber.

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.”

To resolve the matter, 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.

State lawmakers voted to make a temporary adjustment to the certification deadline in 2012 and 2020 to accommodate President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.

Mr. LaRose told Mr. DeWine that May 29 is the last possible day to make a change to allow President Biden on the ballot.

On May 23, Mr. DeWine told reporters it should not be up to the courts to solve Ohio’s problems.

“The Senate has passed several bills that would remedy this situation; however, the House of Representatives has failed to do this,” Mr. DeWine said.

“I’ve waited. I’ve been patient. And my patience has run out,” he added.

Mr. LaRose posted on X expressing his support for the special session.

“I’ve said for months now that this problem created by the Democratic Party can be fixed through legislative action, as the General Assembly has done twice before. I’m glad the governor agrees, and I applaud his decisive leadership in calling a special session to resolve this issue for the voters of our state,” Mr. LaRose wrote.

Mr. DeWine believes that foreign nationals should not spend money in Ohio.

Foreign citizens are banned from giving money to candidates in Ohio, but they are allowed to contribute to state ballot issues.

John Fortnoy, a spokesperson for Ohio Senate Republicans, said in a statement that Mr. Stephens and House Minority Leader Allison Russo, a Democrat, should support the bill that protects Ohio’s elections by outlawing foreign campaign contributions “while at the same time fixing the Democratic Party’s error that kept Joe Biden off the November ballot.”

Ms. Russo told reporters that the foreign spending bill is a distraction and lawmakers should instead focus on how dark money impacts candidates’ campaigns.

Ms. Walters echoed Ms. Russo’s comments and said in a statement that “We must pass the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, which would require dark money groups to identify their funders, disclose their spending, and strengthen the ban on foreign money.”

She also encouraged Republican lawmakers to “put politics aside” and pass a “clean bill” to place President Biden on the ballot.

“Despite Republicans’ political gamesmanship, we’re confident Joe Biden will be on the Ohio ballot,” Ms. Walters said.

Ohio U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance, a Republican, called Mr. DeWine’s preference a “reasonable compromise” and said in a statement that President Trump would win Ohio in the general election regardless of whether President Biden is on the ballot or kept off.

President Trump defeated President Biden by eight points in Ohio in 2020.

If President Biden is not on the ballot, Mr. Vance expressed concern that many President Trump voters would stay home, hurting the down ballot races for the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.

“We need to play chess,” Mr. Vance said.

From The Epoch Times

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