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Ohio Libertarians Blame Ballot Law for Unusual Filing

photo of John Eklund

The recent petition signature filing by Ohio Libertarians to get a presidential candidate on the statewide ballot this fall raises questions about how it was done. 

The Libertarian Party of Ohio raised eyebrows when it said it was filing petitions to put Presidential candidate Gary Johnson on the statewide ballot but then submitted petitions that listed former gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl instead. 

Spokesman Aaron Keith Harris says, because of a recently passed state law regarding minor parties, his group had to file petitions using someone as a placeholder on the ballot in case a federal court rules in favor of his organization’s lawsuit.

“We’d like to put the Libertarian candidate for president on the Ohio ballot the easy way like the Republican and Democrats do but thanks to John Kasich and Jon Husted, we can’t do that. We had to do it this way.”

Harris says the new law, which he says makes it very difficult for his party to be recognized on the Ohio ballot, was designed to help make sure the Libertarian candidate didn’t take votes away from Kasich in 2014. But a Republican state senator who backed that legislation, John Eklund, says that’s wrong.

“The bill was never designed to, nor intended to, nor motivated by any desire to help or hurt anybody because everybody is playing by the same rules at the end of the day. Heaven knows if it was the John Kasich reelection guarantee act or whatever it’s been called, it hardly seems to me, given what happened in 2014 that it was at all necessary, but it certainly was never motivated that way,” he said.

The Green Party’s presidential candidate, Jill Stein, has already qualified for the Ohio ballot because the party’s Gubernatorial candidate in 2014 won enough votes in that general election to be put on the ballot without gathering petition signatures.

Josh Eck, a spokesman for Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, says his office is reviewing the Libertarian petitions and determining the legality of this unusual strategy.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.