Court returns Libertarian city council candidate to Ohio’s November ballot

Robert Bender for Reynoldsburg City Council in Ohio

Robert Bender, a Libertarian Party of Ohio candidate for the Reynoldsburg City Council, has been returned to the November ballot by court order after previously having a critical number of his petition signatures invalidated by election officials.

From the Columbus Dispatch on July 23:

The Franklin County Board of Elections returned a Libertarian candidate for Reynoldsburg City Council to the November ballot on Tuesday, about a week after being ordered to do so by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Robert Bender had filed suit seeking reinstatement in the race for the Ward 3 council seat after elections officials invalidated several petition signatures he had submitted, leaving him short of the number needed to appear on the ballot.

According to court documents, Bender submitted his candidacy declaration in early February, and elections officials determined that he had the requisite number of valid petition signatures to qualify for the ballot.

He was unopposed in the primary and was subsequently certified for the Nov. 5 ballot.

However, another resident protested Bender’s petitions, challenging some of the validated signatures.

In June, the county elections board formally heard the challenge, compared signatures on Bender’s petitions with those on file with the board, determined that several did not match, and removed Bender from the general election ballot.

The Ohio Supreme Court determined that the elections board had abused its discretion by acting more than two months after the primary and that evidence was lacking that the protester was a Libertarian Party member with standing to challenge the signatures.

On Tuesday, without comment, the elections board certified Bender for the ballot, adding his name to nine other candidates earlier approved for several Reynoldsburg City Council races.

Republican incumbent Marshall Spalding and Democrat Bhuwan Pyakurel also are running for the Ward 3 seat.