Columbus Dispatch Story on New Ohio Libertarian Party Ballot Access Lawsuit

Ballot Access News

The Columbus Dispatch has this story about the new lawsuit filed by the Ohio Libertarian Party in State Supreme Court. The new lawsuit notes that Gary Johnson received more than 3% of the vote for president in Ohio last month. The suit is based on a part of the election code that says a group of voters who sponsor a presidential candidate who gets more than 3% can establish a new ballot-qualified party.

The story is somewhat flawed, because the reporter apparently did not contact the Libertarian Party to ask for a response to the Secretary of State’s comment on the lawsuit. The Secretary of State says the existing procedure for establishing a party has been upheld. But that is irrelevant; the new lawsuit is not about the petition requirement, but the alternate vote method. Also the Secretary of State says that the attorney for the Libertarian Party already conceded in another lawsuit that what the party is asking for is not valid. It is true that the party’s brief in another case suggested that the vote test method for a new group is unlikely to be recognized by the Secretary of State, but that brief said nothing further on that subject.

Section 3517.01 says, “A political party within the meaning of Title 35 of the Revised Code is any group of voters which, at the last preceding regular state election, polled for its candidate for nominees for presidential electors at least 3% of the entire vote cast…”. The sentence then goes on to say that a second method to establish a party is a 1% petition. The party depends on the first clause, not the second clause. The Johnson petition listed five voters who held themselves out as representing that petition, and it is they who are claiming that they meet the standard in the first clause. Another document, filed by the Libertarian Party, certifies that the individuals who filed the petition have permission to use the name “Libertarian Party” for their group. The law does not say that the first method requires a party label on the petition.

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