The House and Senate gave final approval today to a bill establishing new criteria for recognizing minor political parties in Ohio, and Gov. John Kasich is set to sign it tonight. Kevin Knedler, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said the party is expected to file a lawsuit challenging the law by the end of the week. Meanwhile, the Senate also voted today for a bill designed to establish uniform rules for the mailing of absentee ballot applications. As recommended by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati minor parties would have to collect signatures equal to 0.5 percent of the total vote from the previous presidential election — about 28,000 signatures. Starting in 2015, the requirement would increase to 1 percent of the prior gubernatorial or presidential election. The House-passed version of the bill had set a more lenient 10,000 signatures next year, and then 0.5 percent after. The bill also requires that at least 500 signatures come from each of half of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts.
Under the proposal, a minor party could remain recognized for four years if it gets at least 2 percent of the vote in the gubernatorial race next year. Starting in 2015, it would bump it to 3 percent in a gubernatorial or presidential race.
In 2010, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Ken Matesz got 2.4 percent of the vote. Libertarians have fared better in some other statewide races, picking up 4.9 percent in both the secretary of state and state treasurer’s races in 2010. Minor parties oppose the bill limiting the vote to just governor and presidential races.
The Libertarian Party of Ohio plans to sue because the bill blocks its ability to hold a primary election and it takes effect for 2014, forcing parties to scramble to collect signatures. Instead of a primary, recognized minor parties would select candidates via a convention.