The US District Court yesterday upheld the current Ohio ballot access law, which requires newly-qualifying parties to collect signatures equal to 1% of the gubernatorial vote in the previous general election.
To get on the ballot for the 2016 elections, the Ohio LP would have to submit 30,560 signatures by July 6, 2016. To stay on the ballot, the LP 2016 presidential candidate would have to get 3% of the vote.
The law has been on the books for many years, but has not been enforced because it imposes a very early February deadline petitioning. For the past 4 election cycles, courts have not only rejected the law but have also put Libertarians on the ballot automatically without needing to petition. Now that the courts have upheld the law with its more reasonable deadline of July, Libertarians must comply with the law’s tough petitioning requirements.
If the 2016 presidential candidate gets at least 3% in the state, the party will be on the ballot for two general election cycles.
However, the Ohio LP believes that the legal challenge is still active because the decision on Monday addressed a separate case brought on by the ACLU, Ohio Green, and Ohio Constitution Parties, according to Mark Brown, the attorney handling the case for the LPO.
“We remain optimistic about our chances of success,” said Brown, noting that the ACLU-led challenge was on federal First and Fourteenth Amendment grounds, while the LPO challenge concerns state constitutional issues.
12 years ago, newly-qualifying parties needed to collect the same amount of signatures, but had a 5% vote test for the top-of-the-ticket candidate to retain ballot access. That law was thrown out by the courts due to the early filing deadline, November of the year prior to the election. The Ohio Secretary of State at the time wrote a new law, but Mr. Brown was able to get that overturned, because only legislatures can write ballot access laws. The court ordered the Libertarian Party of Ohio on the ballot in 2008. The state legislature continued writing new legislation with early filing deadlines, and the courts continued to throw out those laws until 2012, when the filing deadline was set 125 days prior to the general election, which will be July 6 next year.
Read the LPO press release on the court’s decision here:
Richard Winger, editor and publisher of Ballot Access News, believes that if a court did overturn the current law, the LPO would be ordered back on the ballot.