Biden could face legal hurdle to get on the 2024 Ohio ballot

Published 2:31 pm Wednesday, April 10, 2024

COLUMBUS (TNS) — President Joe Biden might not get on Ohio’s general-election ballot this November because of a scheduling conflict, a top staffer for Secretary of State Frank LaRose has warned Democrats.

In a Friday letter to Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters, LaRose’s legal counsel Paul Disantis wrote that while state law sets a deadline of Aug. 7 to certify presidential candidates for the Nov. 5 general election, Biden won’t be formally nominated until the Democratic National Convention, which is set for Aug. 19-22 in Chicago.

Disantis wrote that Democrats have only two options to avoid Biden being left off Ohio’s statewide ballot: either move up the date of the convention itself or get the Ohio General Assembly to pass a law by May 9 that creates an exemption for Biden.

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In the letter, Disantis asked Walters to provide “clarification” and “any information that can assure this office of timely compliance with Ohio law.”

Ben Kindel, a spokesman for the Ohio secretary of state’s office, stated in a text that the reason that LaRose’s office didn’t flag the issue until now was because staff had been focused on last month’s primary election and was only now starting to prepare for the general election.

It’s not clear whether the state legislature, which is dominated by Republicans, would be willing to pass such an exemption within the next few weeks. Plain Dealer has reached out to spokespeople for Republicans and Democrats in both the Ohio House and Ohio Senate for comment, as well as to the Biden campaign.

The Ohio Democratic Party is reviewing the letter, party spokesman Matt Keyes stated Saturday.

Copies of the letter, which was first reported on by ABC News, were provided to Plain Dealer by LaRose’s office and the Ohio Democratic Party.

The Associated Press reported that the Biden campaign said Monday that it does not expect the snag to keep the president off the ballot.

“We’re monitoring the situation in Ohio, and we’re confident that Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states,” the campaign said in a statement.

Even if Biden makes the Ohio ballot, he faces an uphill climb to win the state in November. While Ohio has been a key swing state in the past, ex-President Donald Trump – the presumptive Republican presidential nominee this year – easily won the state in both 2016 and 2020.

However, if there’s no Democratic candidate for president on the November ballot, that could have ramifications for other races – including Ohio’s competitive U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown and GOP nominee Bernie Moreno. Moreno won last month’s GOP Senate primary over LaRose, as well as state Sen. Matt Dolan of Chagrin Falls.