A Green Township Republican’s proposal for regulating minority political parties’ attempts to get on the ballot passed the Ohio Senate on Tuesday, over the complaints of members of the Libertarian and Green parties. Ohio’s rules for letting minority parties on the ballot were struck down by a 2006 court ruling that said the state made it too hard for the parties to get on the ballot. Directives from the Ohio secretary of state have governed ballot access since then. State Sen. Bill Seitz says it’s time to have a new, constitutional law. He sponsored the bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday, 22-11, after being rushed through a Senate committee in just two weeks. The Senate Oversight Committee passed the bill just 20 minutes before the full Senate was scheduled to take up the bill.
Opponents to the bill say it’s an attempt to protect Gov. John Kasich’s 2014 re-election bid. Many tea party conservatives are unhappy with Kasich’s support of expanding Medicaid in Ohio and his recent avoidance of topics such as right-to-work legislation. They may support a Libertarian candidate instead, so Republicans want to make it harder for Libertarians to get on the ballot, opponents to the bill say.
The bill keeps the requirement in previous law that groups seeking to qualify as a minor political party get enough signatures to represent 1 percent of the vote from the previous gubernatorial or presidential election – about 56,000 votes for the 2014 ballot. That’s next-to-impossible to meet, opponents say. And if the bill passes, they’ll have to start over in their work to gather signatures for the 2014 election.