Ohio Republican governor calls special session to resolve Biden ballot access issue

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday he was calling the state’s Republican-controlled legislature into special session next week to fix a timing issue that could keep President Joe Biden from appearing on the state’s general election ballot.

Election officials in Ohio have flagged that this summer’s Democratic National Convention, where Biden will be formally renominated, would take place after the state’s August 7 deadline for parties to submit candidates for the ballot.

The Democratic convention is scheduled to take place August 19-22, while Republicans are holding their convention in July.

DeWine, a Republican, said the Ohio legislature’s failure to address the issue – something it resolved under similar scenarios in 2012 and 2020 – was “simply unacceptable.”

“Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting president of the United States, on the ballot this fall,” DeWine said. “This is a ridiculous, this is absurd, situation.”

DeWine said it was “important” that Ohioans “have the opportunity to cast a vote for either of the major party candidates” for president, US Senate and other offices.

The special session would allow the legislature to address the certification deadline but also to potentially pass a bill, which Democrats oppose, to prevent foreign spending on Ohio ballot measures. Legislative fixes to get Biden on the ballot have been tied up in fights over the foreign spending issue.

The situation in Ohio mirrored a similar one in Republican-controlled Alabama, which was resolved earlier this month when state officials enacted legislation to allow Biden to appear on the state’s fall ballot.

The legislation pushed out Alabama’s certification deadline from 82 days before the election to 74 days, giving Democrats time to submit Biden’s name after he formally becomes the nominee at their convention.

In recent years, lawmakers and state election officials have quietly resolved certification timeline issues by either enacting legislation to push back the deadline or accepting provisional certifications from political parties.

In Ohio, which requires parties to submit the names of their nominees 90 days before the general election, the path forward has been less clear. State officials have said they won’t accept provisional certification.

Long a presidential swing state, Ohio has in recent years swung sharply to the right. Donald Trump carried the state by 8 points both in 2016 and 2020. And Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, who faces a difficult reelection this year, is currently the only Democrat in nonjudicial statewide office.

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