Political junkies and history buffs have spent weeks dreaming about the unlikeliest possible scenarios that could determine the 2016 election: contested conventions, third-party bids, a cross-party ticket. But here’s one prospect they probably haven’t thought of: There’s a legally sound scenario in which John Kasich could single-handedly pick the next U.S. president. And it’s all thanks to a federal law that’s been on the books since 1887. It’s a far-fetched outcome, to be sure, but here’s how that could happen—and why Congress should consider revising that 130-year-old law. It starts with a serious ballot dispute in November, something like the contested results in Florida during the 2000 election—the odds of which aren’t trivial. Setting aside the very real prospect of a Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump nail-biter, the risk of a recount and related litigation is higher than it was in the past, thanks to a greater number of absentee and provisional ballots, which often get counted after Election Day. In this situation, the Supreme Court could step in to resolve the dispute. But the odds of that happening have probably decreased due to the vociferous criticism of the Bush v. Gore decision. Not to mention that in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, there could still be only eight sitting justices in November; that also makes it more likely the court will stay out of the matter this time.
Pennsylvania: Kasich’s ballot challenge withdrawn; clears way to primary | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
John Kasich will appear on April’s Republican primary ballot in Pennsylvania, next door to his home state of Ohio where he whipped front-runner Donald J. Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Tuesday. Kasich’s opportunity to continue the fight for the nomination here was in question after representatives of Marco Rubio’s campaign challenged Kasich’s petitions, claiming the Ohio governor did not submit enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot. On Wednesday, a day after the Florida senator suspended his campaign, Rubio student operative Nathaniel Rome dropped the Commonwealth Court filing he initiated, said Chris Bravacos, CEO of the Bravo Group and brother to the attorney representing Rome. Bravacos said Rome asked to withdraw his objection to the Kasich nominating petition. He did not elaborate.
That amount of time may be the saving grace for John Kasich’s presidential campaign strategy, one that relies heavily on the state of Pennsylvania — a state where Kasich’s lawyers are battling to keep him on the ballot. Central to that battle is a missed deadline by a Marco Rubio supporter in the state who objected to hundreds of signatures filed by Kasich’s campaign to get onto the state’s ballot. The deadline was missed, according to Kasich’s legal team, by all of 13 minutes, making the petition void. Yet even seizing on that technicality hasn’t led to a simple resolution of the issue. As both sides prepare to file new briefs in the case Monday, no less than Kasich’s entire post-Ohio primary strategy is at stake.
Pennsylvania: For John Kasich, a battle over signatures to appear on primary ballot | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s own lawyer agrees the presidential campaign submitted fewer valid signatures than are required for the candidate to appear on Pennsylvania’s primary ballot. But he argued in court Wednesday that it doesn’t matter because an objection to Mr. Kasich’s nominating petitions was filed 13 minutes too late. At issue is whether challenges to Pennsylvania nominating petitions are due by 5 p.m. or 11:59 p.m. on the last day to file. Attorneys for Mr. Kasich and the objector have stipulated that the campaign filed no more than 2,184 signatures with the state, and that 192 of those signatures were not valid. Republican and Democratic candidates for president must submit 2,000 signatures to appear on the ballot.
Gov. John Kasich says he wants to change the way Ohio draws congressional districts, but other supporters of the idea say it will take a change of heart by Ohio’s federal lawmakers to make it happen. Ohio’s congressional districts are currently drawn by the legislature, which can gerrymander districts to favor the party that controls the chambers. The process has led to a number of districts that make little geographic sense, allow for few competitive races and have given Republicans 12 of 16 seats. “I support redistricting reform dramatically,” Kasich said last week. “This will be something I’m going to do whether I’m elected president or whether I’m here. We carve these safe districts, and then when you’re in a safe district you have to watch your extremes, and you keep moving to the extremes.”
It’s unlikely to happen, but voters could elect two different congressmen to fill John Boehner’s vacated seat in the March primary. That’s because Ohio Gov. John Kasich has chosen to conduct the primary for Boehner’s unfinished 6-month term and the two-year term on the same date. And since the Speaker of the House resigned in the middle of his term, voters must choose a replacement and someone to serve the next full term, which begins in 2017. That means any candidate running for both will appear on the March ballot twice. When asked about the date, Joshua Eck, press secretary for Ohio Secretary of State John Husted, could not think of any examples when this had been done before. Husted, Ohio’s chief elections officer, is responsible for setting the election calendar and deadlines for those elections.
Even on the nearly lawless frontier of bankrolling 2016 presidential campaigns, everyone agrees one important rule remains. Coordination is not allowed between a candidate’s official campaign organization and the mysterious entities dubbed super-PACs, or political-action committees that now fuel runs for the White House. There’s just one problem: Almost no one agrees exactly what coordination means. For example, leaders of John Kasich’s official campaign team and his super-PAC considered it legal to work together until virtually the minute the Ohio governor officially announced his presidential candidacy in July. But Jeb Bush’s super-PAC execs, fearful of violating the no-coordination rule, divorced themselves a week or two before the former Florida governor’s formal declaration.
Ohio: Special election will select replacement for John Boehner’s congressional seat | Cleveland Plain Dealer
A special election will be held for House Speaker John Boehner’s congressional seat, and the field is wide open for who might next represent Ohio’s 8th District. Boehner’s resignation Friday means voters will have to elect someone to finish his term through December 2016. His resignation takes effect Oct. 30 — too late to add his…
Recently passed Ohio voting laws create hurdles for minority voters casting absentee and provisional ballots, advocates argued in an updated federal lawsuit filed on Monday. The laws and similar orders by the secretary of state unconstitutionally permit absentee votes to be thrown out for ID errors, according to the lawsuit. Those mistakes could include putting down the wrong birth month on the absentee envelope even when a voter supplied the correct information when requesting the ballot, the lawsuit said. The laws also removed protection for voters casting provisional ballots by failing to provide the chance for voters to be notified of errors that could cause the ballot to be rejected, according to the lawsuit.
Recently passed Ohio voting laws create new hurdles for minority voters casting absentee and provisional ballots, election rights advocates argued in an updated federal lawsuit filed Monday. The laws and similar orders by the state’s elections chief unconstitutionally permit absentee votes to be thrown out for ID errors, according to the lawsuit. Those mistakes could include putting down the wrong birth month on the absentee envelope even when a voter supplied the correct information when requesting the ballot, the lawsuit said. The laws also removed protection for voters casting provisional ballots by failing to provide the chance for voters to be notified of errors that could cause the ballot to be rejected, according to the lawsuit.
Not long ago I had separate chats with two political insiders who offered to fill me in on Jeb Bush’s strategy, if he prevails in the primaries, for winning the general election. In each instance I braced for a lengthy exegesis but got only one sentence: He picks John Kasich as his running mate. That was the playbook. It presumed that Bush would collect Florida’s electoral votes, having once governed the state. It presumed that Ohio could be delivered by Kasich, its current governor, who announced his own presidential bid on Tuesday. And it presumed that tandem victories in Florida and Ohio would seal the deal, because so much of the rest of America was dependably Republican — or Democratic. Just a handful of states decide the country’s fate. Shortly after my chats with those two insiders, a third described Hillary Clinton’s supposed plan for victory. “Cuyahoga County,” this operative said.
Ohio Republicans spent more than half a million dollars on a successful bid to keep Libertarian Party gubernatorial* candidate Charlie Earl off the state ballot last year. The GOP initially balked at the accusation that they had engaged in any dirty dealings to thwart Earl’s candidacy. Then, in a federal lawsuit filed by the Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO), District Judge Michael H. Watson found that it was “obvious” that “operatives or supporters of the Ohio Republican Party” had indeed hired a “dupe” to bring about Earl’s electoral demise. Unfortunately, the dupe—Gregory Felsoci, an LPO member who filed a formal complaint with the secretary of state’s office challenging signatures the party collected—did have a point, the judge decided: Earl’s petition circulators had not disclosed that they were being paid by the LPO.
Ohio lawmakers set the table for Gov. John Kasich to potentially take all of the Buckeye State’s GOP presidential delegates in one swoop next year. By moving the state’s 2016 primary election back a week — from March 8 to March 15 — Ohio’s Republican vote will be a winner-take-all contest. The Senate gave the legislature’s final approval on Wednesday, 23-10. The measure becomes law with Kasich’s signature.
The state’s Elections Commission dismissed a complaint May 21 alleging that Republican Gov. John Kasich’s re-election campaign played a role in getting a Libertarian candidate bumped from last year’s gubernatorial ballot. Attorneys for Libertarian Charlie Earl argued that Kasich’s campaign and GOP consultant Terry Casey conspired in a successful protest that disqualified Earl from the 2014 governor’s race and that Casey’s resulting legal bills constitute an unreported in-kind contribution to the campaign. They sought a $720,000 fine against Kasich’s team. The elections panel ruled otherwise. Members voted 5-2 to dismiss the complaint, finding that Earl lacked the evidence to show a coordinated effort.
Ohio: Republican Party paid $300,000 in legal bills to keep Libertarian candidate off ballot | Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Ohio Republican Party paid $300,000 to the law firm involved with successfully keeping would-be Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl off last year’s ballot, according to Ohio Elections Commission filings. The payments, detailed by attorneys representing Gov. John Kasich’s re-election campaign and GOP activist Terry Casey, came after Republican Party Chair Matt Borges denied in federal court last year that his party was behind the challenge to Earl’s candidacy. Casey and Kasich’s campaign brought up the payments as evidence that Kasich’s re-election campaign did not collude to disqualify Earl, as the Libertarian alleges in an elections commission complaint.
In a rebuke of fellow Republicans, Gov. John Kasich used his line-item veto authority today to kill language that would have targeted out-of-state college students who register to vote in Ohio to quickly obtain in-state licenses and vehicle registrations. The governor let stand a new portion of the law requiring new Ohio residents to get an updated license and registration within 30 days. But he stripped out the measure linking that provision with voting registration. The Dispatch reported today that state officials could not say how the voting requirement would have been enforced. Democrats and voting-rights activists had lobbied the governor’s office to veto the measure, contending it would discourage students from voting if they had to obtain Ohio documentation within 30 days of registering to vote.
Ohio: Kasich vetoes transportation budget language that critics said would deter voting | Cleveland Plain Dealer
Gov. John Kasich on Wednesday vetoed some provisions tucked into the transportation budget bill that critics had predicted would deter out-of-state college students from voting in Ohio. But the governor let stand a 30-day time limit by which anyone who declares Ohio residency must re-register their cars and get a new driver’s license. A provision that listed registering to vote among several acts of declaring residency in the state had triggered criticism. Under the vetoed language, failure to re-register an out-of-state car and get a new driver’s license would have resulted in loss of all driving privileges in Ohio and open the driver to a minor misdemeanor charge and a fine.
The transportation budget bill that the General Assembly has sent Gov. John Kasich includes a noxious amendment that would discourage out-of-state college students from voting in Ohio. The governor should veto this irresponsible provision before he signs the bill. The Republican-controlled state Senate inserted the provision without public hearings or much debate. It would require people who want to vote in Ohio to get in-state driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations no later than 30 days after they register to vote. That mandate requires would-be voters to incur costs of $75 or more; violators could face criminal charges. The provision would particularly affect the 100,000-plus out-of-state students who attend Ohio colleges and universities.
It is often remarked, “So goes Ohio, so goes the nation,” a common sentiment signifying that Ohio is a bellwether state for national politics. Perhaps it’s time to ask: Where is Ohio going? If you’re Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, you may think Ohio is heading toward rampant voter fraud. Last week, Husted released the results of an exhaustive investigation into non-citizen voting in Ohio, something he considers an “expanding loophole.” But despite the Republican’s alarmist calls, the investigation identified just 145 cases of non-Ohio citizens illegally registered to vote, an amount totaling a miniscule two ten-thousandths of a percent of the 7.7 million registered Ohio voters. Unsurprisingly, a similar investigation released by Husted’s office in 2013 found that only 0.0003 percent of all ballots casted in the state were by non-citizens.
Election Day is so 2007. Welcome to the start of Election Month in Ohio. “Just sitting back and waiting for people to turn out on Election Day is a fool’s errand,” said Matt Borges, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. With the growing popularity of casting ballots ahead of time, the fate of statewide elections, county races and local issues will be decided beginning Tuesday at early-voting centers across the Buckeye State — four weeks before polls open on Election Day, Nov. 4. Borges said he expects 11 percent of this year’s turnout to come in the first week of early voting. “I think what it does is it just moves everything up,” said Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald.
Secretary of State Jon Husted wants a court to throw out his own directive. Under an order to county elections boards Husted issued on Friday, Ohioans could start voting a week earlier than he’d planned and cast a ballot during the two weekends before Election Day. But at the same time, the Republican is pushing for a higher court to overturn the lower-court ruling that added the days of early voting and eliminate them. Battling in court over when Ohioans can vote has become almost a biennial ritual, seemingly taking place every time the state has a gubernatorial or presidential election. This year, the dispute involves whether voters can start casting ballots on Sept. 30 or Oct. 7, and whether additional hours will be allowed on weekends and evenings.
Libertarians in Ohio cried foul Tuesday after learning a Republican consultant and appointee of Gov. John Kasich was responsible for hiring the law firm whose challenge pushed two of their candidates off the statewide ballot. Terry Casey worked for Kasich’s 2010 campaign and the governor has since appointed him to the $70,000-a-year job chairing the state personnel review board. Casey’s role hiring Zeiger, Tigges & Little emerged in a case in which Libertarians are asking federal Judge Michael Watson to restore governor candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary to November’s ballot. In a new court filing, the party also says Bradley Smith, hired to oversee the disqualification hearing by Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, didn’t disclose he was working for Ohio’s Republican attorney general, Mike DeWine, doing pro bono work at the time.
Voting restrictions imposed by Ohio Republicans earlier this year will make casting a ballot in the Buckeye State significantly harder, and will hurt African-Americans far more than whites, according to a new court filing which offers a wealth of data to back up its claims. The brief, filed Monday by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), asks a federal judge for an injunction to block the restrictions—cuts to the early voting period, and the elimination of same-day voter registration—before this November’s election. The ACLU filed suit earlier this year, alleging that the moves violate the Voting Rights Act’s ban on voting changes that have a racially discriminatory effect. But until Monday, it had not offered detailed information in support of its case.
Conservative iconography is saturated with references to America’s democratic tradition. From Charles and David Koch’s political action committee, Americans for Prosperity, which uses the Statue of Liberty’s torch for its logo, to the ubiquitous presence of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence at tea party rallies, it is commonplace for conservatives to drape themselves in the flag and proclaim their allegiance to our nation’s founding documents. But lately, conservative lawmakers across the country have launched a drive that not only contradicts this rhetoric but strikes at the fundamental basis for representative government in America: They are pursuing a raft of measures that will restrict voters’ access to the polls. A heated debate about voter ID laws — measures that require voters to take government-issued identification to the polls — has been taking place for several years. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 upheld the constitutionality of these local voter ID laws, but even the justices were deeply divided on the question; civil liberties groups continue to argue that, as with the poll taxes and literacy tests of the Jim Crow South, these laws result in the disenfranchisement of poor people and people of color. However, conservatives have now opened another front in the war on the vote with a slate of recent laws that attack provisions such as early voting.
Ohio Republicans have backed down on an effort to penalize the state’s largest county for sending out absentee ballots. But the escalating battle over voting rights in the nation’s most pivotal swing state shows no sign of subsiding—with one top Democrat calling for a federal probe of GOP voter suppression. A spokesman for House Republicans said Tuesday afternoon that the GOP would drop a measure that would have cut funding by 10% for any county that doesn’t follow state law regarding absentee ballots. The proposal, inserted Monday into a larger budget bill, was a direct shot at the state’s largest county, Cuyahoga, which has asserted the right to mail absentee ballots to all registered voters—in defiance of a recently passed state law barring counties from doing so. Hours later, the Cuyahoga council voted to assert its “home rule” power, giving it the authority to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the county.
State Auditor Dave Yost’s comments about the possibility of getting into Cuyahoga County officials’ pocketbooks should increase the odds of a federal probe of voting in Ohio, the county’s law director says. “Going after the personal finances of public officials for trying to promote voter participation is unprecedented,” said Majeed G. Makhlouf. “I think we expect the Department of Justice to take the threat to voting rights pretty seriously.” At issue is a new law passed by the GOP-controlled state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich saying that the secretary of state’s office is the only government agency that can send out absentee ballot applications.
Charles Earl is trying to run for governor of Ohio. A native of Bowling Green, the one-time Republican state representative now represents the Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO). As the LPO’s gubernatorial candidate, Earl would challenge current Republican Gov. John Kasich and Democrat Ed Fitzgerald come November 2014, possibly siphoning off dissatisfied Ohio voters from Kasich. But Earl’s candidacy is currently in limbo. Last week, Earl received a letter from Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted disqualifying him from the May primary ballot. Earl was disqualified on the grounds that those circulating petitions for his inclusion weren’t Libertarian Party members and/or failed to disclose themselves as paid LPO employees.
Ohio Republicans must not think their political candidates can win a fair fight against Democrats. They’ve decided to rig the state’s election system in their favor, deliberately making voting harder for people who tend to vote Democratic, particularly minorities and the poor. After years of debate and litigation on this issue, Ohio lawmakers know full well that there is no history of electoral fraud in the state and no pattern of abuse by any voters or groups. The sole reason for a series of recently passed bills is that Ohio is a perennial swing state, and Republicans want to give themselves every possible advantage in sending party members to Congress later this year, and putting electoral votes in the Republican column in the 2016 presidential election.
Ohio: Husted disqualifies 2 Libertarian candidates from May primary after protests | Associated Press
Two Libertarian candidates for statewide office were tossed from Ohio’s primary ballot on Friday in a state election chief’s ruling that sparked immediate plans for a legal challenge. Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a brief statement in disqualifying gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl and attorney general candidate Steven Linnabary from the May 6 primary, saying he had adopted a hearing officer’s recommendations. The candidates’ nominating petitions were challenged on two grounds: that signature gatherers failed to comply with Ohio laws requiring them to be either Libertarian or political independent and another requiring them to disclose their employer. Mark Brown, an attorney for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, said the party will challenge the decision in federal court.
Republican Gov. John Kasich has signed into law three bills that change the procedures for voting in Ohio. The measures were rammed through the GOP- controlled General Assembly, with proponents arguing, among other things, that they are designed to combat voter fraud. Not surprisingly, Democrats have been quick to respond, accusing the Republicans who control every statewide administrative office and six of the seven Supreme Court seats of attempting to restrict voting. The arguments from both sides should ring familiar. They have been used in previous battles over voting in Ohio. The GOP contends that unrestricted access to the polls is a recipe for disaster; the Democratic Party counters that voter suppression is at the heart of the Republican campaign. It notes that urban areas are hardest hit by the changes in voting procedures, with black voters, who mostly support Democratic candidates, being dissuaded from going to the polls.