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Ohio LP court victory cuts back GOP attempt to block ballot access

A U.S. district court ruling on Jan. 7 substantially reduced the onerous ballot access rules that Ohio Republicans attempted to impose on Libertarians running for office, leaving the Ohio LP in good shape for retaining ballot access through 2018.

State LP Chair Kevin Knedler reports that:

  • Libertarians will be included in the primary election and on the November ballot in 2014, labeled as Libertarian.
  • He expects the Libertarian governor candidate Charles Earl to win more than 2 percent of the vote in November. He is currently polling at 6 percent. This will keep the LP on the ballot for four years instead of two years.
  • The LP's 2016 presidential candidate will likely make the ballot.
  • The statewide vote required to retain ballot access will raise to 3 percent in 2016. However, this is lower than the 5 percent threshold that Republicans sought.
  • The Ohio LP will continue to lobby to ease requirements for statewide candidates and for permanent ballot status.

Richard Winger from Ballot Access News reports:

On January 7, U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Watson ruled that due process requires that Ohio not implement its new ballot access barriers for minor parties for the 2014 election. The 28-page opinion depends on the fact that the Ohio legislature did not pass the new requirements until November 2013, after various candidates of the minor parties had already been circulating petitions to place themselves on their own party's primary ballot. The case is Libertarian Party of Ohio v Husted, southern district, 2:13cv-953.

The decision also depends on the fact that the new law doesn't take effect until February 2014. The Republican majority in the legislature wanted the new requirements to take effect immediately, but the bill would have needed 60% in each House of the legislature to take effect immediately, and because some Republican legislators voted against the bill, the bill did not pass with 60% in the State House.

The decision says, "The Ohio Legislature moved the proverbial goalpost in the midst of the game. Stripping the Plaintiffs of the opportunity to participate in the 2014 primary in these circumstances would be patently unfair."