Efforts to fast-track controversial legislation that would change ballot-access rules for the state’s minor political parties were derailed Wednesday evening thanks to an apparent mistake in the bill’s wording. The Ohio Senate held off on approving Senate Bill 193 after language about petition requirements for parties such as the Libertarians and Greens was somehow omitted from the version passed by the Ohio House of Representatives earlier in the day. The House narrowly passed the measure after lengthy negotiations resulted in softened requirements for parties such as the Libertarians and the Greens to win and keep official recognition.
Supporters say the bill is needed to enact new laws to govern minor parties after a 2006 court ruling found the state’s previous standards to be unconstitutionally restrictive. Since then, the state has continued to recognize four minor parties: the Libertarians, the Greens, the Constitution Party, and the Socialist Party.
But minor party officials and many legislative Democrats say the legislation is designed to keep their candidates — particularly Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl — off the ballot next year, boosting the chances for Gov. John Kasich to win re-election. The Libertarian Party of Ohio has threatened a lawsuit if the bill becomes law.