Ohio Passes Bill to Ensure Biden Appears on State General Election Ballot

CLEVELAND — Ohio’s Republican-controlled state legislature has approved a bill to secure President Joe Biden’s place on the November ballot, ending weeks of political gamesmanship on a deadline which, in recent years, had been relaxed without drama.

The measure, which passed a special session of the state Senate Friday, now goes to the governor. Mike DeWine, a Republican. DeWine, who called a special session to resolve the Biden issue and tackle legislation unrelated to campaign finance, is expected to sign the bill.

“I don’t think anyone on this side of the aisle really feels like they’re going to vote for President Biden, but at the same time, Ohioans deserve to have a choice when this election, and that’s what we’re looking to give them today,” said Sen. Rob McColley, a Republican, on Friday in support of the measure.

Approval of the bill is not expected to end Biden’s effort to designate a virtual roll-call vote well before a convention in late August.

The Democratic National Committee announced the plan earlier this week, preferring to avoid what had become an unpredictable partisan fight and ensure Biden is certified as the candidate before Aug. 1 in Ohio. 7 deadline. The DNC indicated Friday that a meeting Tuesday for its Rules and Bylaws Committee to move forward on a resolution that would allow the virtual call would go ahead as planned. A full DNC vote would follow.

“Today’s action echoes what we already knew: Since the beginning of this process, Ohio Republicans have played partisan games and attempted to undermine our democracy, while Democrats have defended the right of Ohioans to vote,” said Hannah Muldavin, senior spokesperson for the DNC. . “Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states, and we are already taking steps to make sure that is the case, regardless of the shenanigans of the Ohio Republicans.”

In the past, both parties have had to reconcile late summer nominating conventions with earlier deadlines set by states to certify general election candidates. Ohio, for example, relaxed the deadline four years ago for both Democrats and Republicans without much fanfare or controversy. This year, the problem only concerns Ohio Democrats, since the Republican Party has scheduled a convention in mid-July.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican, warned Democrats last month that Biden was at risk of not qualifying for the ballot. In recent weeks, many Republicans have conditioned their support for extending the deadline on a vote barring non-U.S. citizens from donating to campaigns for state-level ballot initiatives. DeWine requested this state The Legislature is considering both issues in calling this week’s special session.

Democrats described the restrictions on foreign money and other elements of the legislation as an unnecessary “poison pill” that would weaken citizen-led petition campaigns. Last year, Ohio voters codified the right to abortion in the state constitution, and progressives are supporting a redistricting reform measure scheduled for the November ballot.

Republicans hold large majorities in the House and Senate, but Republican leaders in both chambers were rarely on the same page during the bill’s negotiation, a reflection of the divisive internal politics that have roiled the ‘Ohio. Statehouse in recent years. The uncertainty frustrated Democrats and prompted Biden and the DNC to launch the virtual call.

Ultimately, the House and Senate approved both the campaign finance legislation and Biden’s fixes in separate bills.

“This bill – only a temporary solution – was conditioned by the attack on voter initiatives,” the representative said. Dontavius ​​​​Jarrells, a Democrat, said in a speech Thursday in support of the Biden-related bill. “The political maneuvering and legislative trickery that brought us here to today’s special session is a stark reminder of why we must end gerrymandering in Ohio. »

Jarrells and other Democrats expressed frustration that the bill only relaxed this year’s certification deadline, meaning presidential candidates from either party could be faced with a similar situation in the next elections. Democratic proposals to make the fix permanent were tabled Thursday and Friday. Republican proposals said they are open to the idea but want more time to seek input from state and local election officials.

“I think we should seek advice from the secretary of state,” the representative said. Bob Peterson, the Republican who chairs the House Government Oversight Committee, said Wednesday. “I think we need to talk to the local election boards. There are reasons these deadlines are put in place so they can get the job done.

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