RE: LIBERTARIAN PARTY STATUS CHALLENGE – FRANKLIN COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LIBERTARIAN PARTY OF OHIO
DATE:  MAY 29, 2019

The Franklin County Board of Elections met on May 28, 2019, at 2:00 pm to consider a challenge to the candidacy of Libertarian candidate Rob Bender for Reynoldsburg Ward 3 City Council Representative.

The pretext of the challenge to Mr. Bender is the validity of his candidate petition signatures and the Minor Party status of the Libertarian Party to field candidates under Ohio law. The Ohio GOP has a long history of challenging Libertarian candidates in order to preserve the two-party system.

The Administrator for the BOE verified, in the May 28 hearing, that the signatures are valid and sufficient for the candidacy. Unhappy with that answer, Board Member Doug Preisse (R) asked his employee if he would like to “change his mind.” The answer was, “no.”

Too bad Mr. Preisse.

The Libertarian Party of Ohio gained Minor Party status in July 2018 after submitting over 100,000 petition signatures as required under Ohio law. Minor Party status remains valid if either the party’s gubernatorial or presidential candidate earns at least 3% of the vote. Ohio law allows a Minor Party two election cycles to reach this threshold.

The 2016 Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received 3.17% of votes in Ohio, yet was ruled to not have achieved the required 3%.

Libertarian Party attorney and Capital Law School professor Mark Brown represented Mr. Bender at the hearing. He directed the Board to the facts that the challenge on ballot access was made outside the time allowed for such challenges and the elector bringing forth the challenge is not a Libertarian. The challenger to the petition was not present at the hearing.

Franklin County Libertarian Party Chair, Michael Sweeney, said of the challenge,

“We know the law is on our side, but the Republican and Democratic Board Members are not. They appeared unprepared for this hearing, baffled by their own rules, and casually claimed the benefit of ignorance that they zealously deny others who come before them.”

The BOE will meet again on Monday, June 3, 2019, at 3pm to consider this matter, which was continued at the request of BOE attorney to review Ohio law.

The Libertarian Party of Ohio annual Conference will be held in Toledo on May 31 – June 1 and is open to the public.

For more information on ballot access laws or the GOP history of ballot censorship contact:

Franklin County Libertarian Party  614-412-2026

Political Director, Kryssi Wichers 740-808-2158


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The Unknown Future

The election has come and gone and, despite all our efforts, we fell short of 3%.  In fact, the combined total of both the Libertarian and Green Parties fell short of 3%.

What does this bode for the future?

Unknown.

By a strict reading of Ohio Election Law we should still have access until the 2020 Presidential Election, but when has government ever followed the law?

Should they deny us access yet again, what then?  Do we roll over and play dead?  De we surrender to the politics of fear that drive the mainstream Parties?

In a word, NO!

A friend of mine majored in History, with a particular interest in Church History.  One night, several months ago, he spent almost an entire hour explaining in great detail his belief that the worst thing that ever happened to the Christian Church was it being not only legalized by the Emperor Constantine but being made the official religion of the Roman Empire.  Until that time, he argued, believers had to be committed to the cause because their very lives were at stake.  Afterwards, as a legally recognized religion it became fat, lazy and corrupt in just a few generations.  He argued that the loss of religious liberty feared by so many today might be the best thing that could happen to the church because the dead wood would be cut away and only those most committed would remain.

So, if we lose ballot access will that spell our doom?

Again, NO.

Some might be tempted to walk away from the Libertarian Party in frustration, believing we will never have a chance, but those who remain will be those most committed.  And those most committed can work wonders.

Ballot access or no, our core message of liberty will remain the same. Others will say that our votes are doubly wasted and all we’re doing is shouting at brick walls, but walls have been known to crumble.

All the loss of access will mean is our task will be a little bit harder.

But worthwhile causes usually are.

Ken Holpp, Communications Director, FCLP

Libertarian Party has Ballot Access in 48 states!

From Wes Benedict:

Months and months of hard work have been paying off as we cross the ballot-access finish line in more states. This week, we add Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania to the tally. That puts us at ballot access in 48 states (plus DC) for 2018!

Dear Libertarian,

Months and months of hard work have been paying off as we cross the ballot-access finish line in more states.

This week, we add Connecticut, New York, and Pennsylvania to the tally.

That puts us at ballot access in 48 states (plus DC) for 2018!

It is also worth noting and celebrating that this is the first time in
20 years that voters in Connecticut will be able to vote for a Libertarian candidate for Governor!

Plus, the two states without ballot access, Tennessee and Alabama, aren’t completely without ballot access. In fact, Alabama has four candidates on the ballot as Libertarians for local or state house offices. However, we don’t categorize Alabama as fully on the ballot because Alabama Libertarians didn’t qualify for a statewide office.

Tennessee has five candidates on the ballot as independents because they didn’t qualify to get on the ballot as Libertarians. The states of Alabama and Tennessee both make it especially hard for Libertarians to qualify for the ballot – something we’ll continue fighting to improve.

Regarding at least some Libertarians on the ballot in all 50 states, Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News commented, “no other alternative party can be shown to have reached this midterm milestone since 1890, when official balloting began.”

Please join me in congratulating and thanking all those who have pitched in to achieve ballot access for 2018. This includes thousands of activists, volunteers, donors, and staff and the Johnson/Weld campaign which achieved ballot access for us in 37 of these states.

Well done, team!

Onward to Election Day!

Wes Benedict
Executive Director

https://www.lp.org/three-more-victories/?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign-wes-benedict&utm_content=20180907+GEN+ballot+access+2018

Sorry we missed you flyers

Join Franklin County Libertarians canvasing for Ballot Access petition in neighborhoods around Columbus, Worthington, Gahanna and other communities!

Here are the “Sorry we missed you” flyers, front and back.

Franklin County – sorry_we missed_you

Franklin County – sorry_we_missed_you2

Warren County – warren-sorry_we_missed_you-front

Warren County – warren-sorry_we_missed_you-back

Want a flyer for your county? Leave a comment, and we’ll get that made!

GET THE LP BACK ON THE BALLOT!

We need your help to get the Libertarian Party regain ballot access in Ohio. This article helps explain what ballot access is, why it is important to us, and why the Libertarian Party of Ohio does not currently have it. To volunteer, check the “Circulate Petitions” or “Validate Petitions” box on the Volunteer form.

What is “ballot access”?

“Ballot access” is the right to put a political party label under a candidate’s name on the ballot. Having ballot access also enables a party to hold a primary. Under Ohio law (ORC 3501.38, amended in 2013 by Senate Bill 193), a political party must get 3% of the vote for Governor or 3% of the vote for President to gain ballot access for four years. The party must again get 3% of the vote for President or Governor to renew its access for another four years. Supporters of SB 193 designed and timed this bill to prevent the Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO) from appearing on the ballot in 2014. To correct this injustice, the LPO filed several lawsuits. The federal district court in the first case,  Libertarian Party of Ohio v. Husted, ordered the Secretary of State to keep the LPO on the ballot in 2014 (Court documents).  This case went to the Supreme Court of the United States, which decided to let stand a federal appeals court ruling against the LPO. A suit filed in the state court system in 2015 challenged the constitutionality of SB 193 on the basis of Article V, Section 7 of the Ohio Constitution.

In the most recent case, State ex. rel. Fockler v. Husteddecided January 20, 2017, the Court ruled that Gary Johnson’s 3.17% vote for President did not qualify the Libertarian Party to get on the ballot, despite the clear wording of Section 3517.01(A)(1)(a) of the Ohio Revised Code. The dissenting justice, William O’Neill observed that the majority ruling involved “circular reasoning,” The LPO filed for reconsideration, which is currently pending in the Ohio Supreme Court.

Why the Party needs to circulate petitions now

The short answer

The short answer: The law requires us to circulate petitions containing more than 55,000 valid signatures (with at least 500 each from eight of Ohio’s 16 Congressional Districts), and file them by August 2018 to allow our candidates to show the Libertarian label on the ballot. Because petition gathering usually results in a large number of invalid signatures, the state party will attempt to gather at least 110,000 signatures statewide.  The Libertarian Party of Ohio office will be open throughout this year to receive and validate signatures using a method proven successful in our effort to get our 2016 Presidential candidate Gary Johnson on the Ohio ballot as an independent. Volunteers are validating the signatures in a process so laborious that — to do the process correctly — it would take a full-time employee over a year and a half to validate the petitions.

You can help us get back on the ballot by circulating petitions and validating them. This link will let you download petition forms and inform you of state validation events. The Franklin County Libertarian Party is planning additional circulation and validation events. For dates and times, see our Facebook page. For additional information, contact Tricia Sprankle, state political director and petition coordinator.

The long answer, including juicy details

In 2014, Charlie Earl, Libertarian candidate for Governor, submitted petitions containing 1,478 signatures, far more than the 500 signatures required by law. After Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office unofficially indicated that the petitions were acceptable, it received a protest that some of them did not include a properly completed statement naming the employer of a paid circulator (who in fact was an independent contractor). This statement is required by law, but was never enforced. Following that protest, petitions containing over half of Charlie Earl’s signatures were invalidated, disqualifying him from the ballot. Because the protest was filed at the last minute specified by law, Mr. Earl had no opportunity to respond to the protest or to take any corrective action. It therefore became impossible for the Libertarian Party to secure the 3% vote for governor required to stay on the ballot. This was one of the issues in Libertarian Party of Ohio v. Husted, which the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously decided in favor of the Secretary of State (Source).  A second suit filed at the same time, State ex. rel. Linnabary v. Husted, was filed by Attorney General candidate Steve Linnabary, whose petitions was rejected on the same grounds.

The Ohio Republican Party’s involvement

Ohio law requires that a protester must be a member of the same political party as the candidate. The protester in this case was Gregory Felsoci, a carpenter and registered Libertarian living near Akron. The judge in an opinion referred to Mr. Felsoci as a “guileless dupe,” whose testimony “lacks even a basic understanding of the nature of the protest he agreed to sign.”

Testimony revealed that an operative in the Kasich for Governor campaign, Terry Casey, with the help of a local Republican, found Mr. Felsoci and persuaded him to sign the protest. Despite having very limited means, Mr. Felsoci was soon represented by the high-power Columbus law firm of Zeiger, Tigges & Little. Mr. Casey testified in September that he took responsibility for paying Mr. Felsoci’s legal bills, and would look for donors to pay them.

The “donor” turned out to be the Ohio Republican Party (ORP). In a filing to the Ohio Elections Commission at its hearing May 8, 2015, the ORP admitted to spending $300,000 to pay Zeiger, Tigges & Little the costs of representing Mr. Felsoci (newspaper story). (This figure is now estimated to be greater than $575,000).

The extraordinary timing of the protest was made possible by e-mails and texts made between Mr. Casey and two employees of the Ohio Secretary of State, Matt Damschroder (Director of Elections) and Jack Christopher (General Counsel), which began two weeks before the protest was filed.

These facts make it clear that the Ohio Republican Party and Gov. Kasich’s campaign conspired to keep Charlie Earl off the ballot, fearing that the Libertarian vote in a close race would have resulted in a Democratic victory for governor.

 

There is no evidence to suggest that Gov. Kasich had any personal knowledge of Mr. Casey’s or the ORP’s activity. This is to be expected. Campaign operatives take great care to hide such operations from their candidates, to give them “plausible deniability.” However, it would be fair to question the Governor about the character of the people he retained to work for his election.

Help us get back on the ballot by circulating petitions and validating them. This link will let you download petition forms and inform you of state validation events. The Franklin County Libertarian Party is planning additional circulation and validation events. For dates and times, see our Facebook page. For additional information, contact Tricia Sprankle, state political director and petition coordinator.