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Ohio warns Democrats that Biden may miss deadline for November ballot

Democrats may miss a deadline to get President Biden on the general election ballot in Ohio, according to the state’s election management office.

In a letter seen by The Washington Post, the Ohio secretary of state’s office told Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters that the Democratic National Committee’s nominating convention is scheduled too late for Biden to make the Ohio ballot because a state law requires nominees to be certified at least 90 days before the general election.

The letter, citing Ohio’s presidential ballot laws, said the deadline to certify a presidential candidate in Ohio is 90 days before the general election. The election is Nov. 5 this year, putting the Ohio deadline at Aug. 7 — but the Democratic National Convention, which is expected to nominate Biden for a rematch against Donald Trump, isn’t scheduled to convene until Aug. 19.

The letter from Paul Disantis, chief legal counsel for Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), asked Democratic state legislative leaders for clarification to assure the party’s “timely compliance with Ohio law.”

Ben Kindel, a spokesperson for LaRose, shared the letter with The Post but declined to comment further.

Members of the Ohio Democratic Party who were copied in the letter — Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo and Ohio Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio — did not respond to The Post’s request for comment Sunday morning, but the Biden campaign said the president would appear on 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,” Josh Marcus-Blank, a Biden-Harris 2024 campaign spokesperson, told The Post in an email.

LaRose’s office suggested that either the Democratic National Committee move up its nominating convention to meet the Aug. 7 deadline or that the Ohio General Assembly create an exception to the law for the Democrats’ nominee.

Ohio voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020.

David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati, said he expects the Republican nominee to win Ohio again this fall, even if Biden is on the ballot. But if Biden were omitted, Niven said, fewer Democrats would vote, hindering the party’s candidates for Senate and House seats.

“If this were to actually occur and President Biden were held off the ballot, it would be devastating to the general sort of faith in democracy,” Niven said.

This isn’t the first time Ohio’s law has created scheduling conflicts. In 2020, the Democratic and Republican parties scheduled their conventions for after Ohio’s deadline. Knowing this, state lawmakers made a one-time change to reduce the deadline from 90 days before the election to 60, Niven said.

But Niven said that decision benefited both parties. In Ohio, where the Republican Party controls both legislative chambers and the governor’s mansion, Niven said he’s unsure whether Republicans will want to implement another exception.

If the legislature doesn’t make an exception, he said, the Democratic Party may have to name Biden its nominee before the convention or list Biden on the ballot as a third-party candidate.

“My assumption is that, at least in this moment, democracy will win out,” Niven said. “But because this is Ohio, it won’t be easy.”

It would be surprising for a Democratic or Republican nominee not to appear on the general election ballot of all 50 states, but in this year’s Democratic primaries, Biden was not on the ballot in New Hampshire.

Democrats revamped their primary schedule for 2024 to make South Carolina the first contest, but New Hampshire — where a state law requires that its primaries are the first in the nation — did not push its Democratic primary in response. The national party urged candidates not to participate, and Biden opted not to put his name on the ballot, but he won as a write-in candidate anyway.

In 2016, Trump almost missed appearing on the general election ballot in Minnesota because of a miscue from that state’s Republican Party. In December, Colorado disqualified Trump from the state’s primary ballots, but the Supreme Court unanimously overruled that decision.

Both major candidates have visited Ohio, which has 17 electoral votes, this year.

Biden visited East Palestine, Ohio, in February, more than a year after a train derailment there caused environmental issues and political disputes.

Last month, Trump held a rally in Vandalia, Ohio, where he said that some immigrants accused of crimes are “not people” and that there would be a “bloodbath for the country” if he is not elected.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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