Biden ballot access in doubt

David Skolnick

If President Joe Biden is going to appear on the Nov. 5 ballot in Ohio, his campaign is likely going to have to file a lawsuit and be successful.

As it currently stands, Ohio will be the only state in the nation not to include the sitting president who is seeking reelection on the ballot.

Even though Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has ordered a special legislative session to try to get Biden on the ballot, there is no guarantee he will succeed.

The issue started with the Democratic National Committee scheduling its convention, at which Biden will be formally nominated, for Aug. 19-22. Biden will be nominated on the convention’s last day.

Ohio law requires candidates to file 90 days before an election, which would be Aug. 7.

But this isn’t the first time a Republican and / or Democratic convention was held after Ohio’s filing deadline. During the 2012 and 2020 presidential election, both parties scheduled conventions after Ohio’s filing deadline. The state Legislature took action to make a one-time fix to accommodate Republicans and Democrats.

The problem this time is it’s only the Democrats in need of a law change and while Republicans control the House and the Senate, the leaders of the two legislative bodies don’t get along.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and House Speaker Jason Stephens, R-Kitts Hill, can’t agree on much, which has led to not only this stalemate, but a legislative session in which few bills have passed.

The House a few weeks ago introduced a bipartisan bill to not only permit Biden to get on the ballot, but allow the two parties to not be locked into the 90-day deadline in the future. The parties would have been allowed to certify their presidential candidates either 74 days before the election or within three days of their convention, whichever comes first.

But not enough House Republicans backed it.

That’s because some of those Republicans wanted something in return, and several don’t support Stephens.

Stephens was elected speaker thanks to support from House Democrats as he didn’t have enough backing among the chamber’s Republicans for the post. The hard feelings still exist.

Also, Huffman, who will be in the House next year, will challenge Stephens for speaker so Republicans not aligned with Stephens aren’t going to cooperate with him.

Senate Republicans offered a different way to permit Biden to get on the ballot.

They included a one-time fix into a bill that also would ban foreign citizens and U.S. citizens with green cards from donating to ballot campaigns.

Senate Republicans say it’s to keep foreign money out of state ballot campaigns, such as the abortion issue during last November’s election. Foreign nationals already are banned from contributing to candidates.

Democrats in the Legislature don’t want the change and disagree that it should have been included with the Biden bill. They pointed to provisions requiring ballot campaigns — even though for local liquor options — to be required to register as political action committees. (The foreign money ban was included as an amendment Wednesday in a separate Senate bill and previously passed earlier this year.)

A number of House Republicans who oppose Stephens agree with their GOP Senate colleagues, but Stephens refused to put the Senate bill up for a vote.

That means a legislative resolution to the Biden ballot issue isn’t going to happen.

Republican leaders contend this isn’t a major obstacle and Biden will somehow qualify for the Ohio ballot.

Democrats agree.

House Minority Leader Allison Russo, D-Upper Arlington, said: “While political dysfunction appears to have closed the door on a legislative solution ensuring President Biden would be on the November ballot, multiple pathways that have always been better options remain open for meeting the Aug. 7 deadline.”

Based on the 2016 and 2020 elections, Biden has no chance of winning Ohio. Republican Donald Trump, who was on both ballots, won Ohio by 8% and there’s no reason to believe he won’t be successful in November.

A few Democrats have privately said not having Biden on the ballot might increase the chances of down-ticket party candidates being successful.

If Biden is on the ballot, there’s no doubt U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, will outperform him.

Regardless, Democrats and Biden’s campaign will fight to get his name on the ballot.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at



Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today