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.
Why the Party needs to circulate petitions now
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 2023 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 2020 Presidential candidate Gary Johnson on the Ohio ballot as a Libertarian. 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.
The bad news is the Libertarian Party of Ohio has lost ballot access… again. The November Presidential election did not provide the votes needed for Libertarians to retain our status as a minor party. The Ohio Secretary of State released guidance regarding our ballot access in response to a Libertarian Candidate in Hamilton County that does not favor us.
What does this mean? Well, we’re back on the treadmill. We will need to collect ballot access petition signatures again to seek recognition for Minor Party Status. Based on the math we will need to collect 59,742 valid signatures from valid Ohio voters, at minimum, and with past experience on the matter, the more realistic number is over 100,000 signatures.
The good news is our Libertarian Party of Ohio Executive Committee has risen to the challenge and already formed a new Ballot Access Committee and produced a valid “Petition to Form a Minor Political Party”. This is the critical first step in our next adventure.
The better news is your Franklin County Libertarians have a plan. Over the past 4 years we have looked at how the petition process works in Ohio, how it works digitally in other states, and how we can take advantage of social media, outreach platforms and our amazing volunteers to facilitate and accelerate the laborious process of collecting and validating so many petitions.
Hint, we won’t be standing in front of BMV’s and libraries.
We can’t share our entire plan with you just yet, the FCLP Executive Committee has approved a framework to move forward and we will have more to share soon.
We are very excited about the opportunities this challenge provides, not just for Libertarians, but all issues and candidates that have burdensome petitioning requirements.
We’ll be in touch when we’re ready to share and appreciate all the hard work and dedication from our incredible volunteers. We are working to live up to your expectations and provide the best tools to get this important work done.
In accordance with the By-Laws of the Franklin County Libertarian Party (FCLPO), the Constitution of the Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO) and the Ohio Revised Code (ORC), the current County Central Committee members have scheduled our upcoming organizational meeting and County Convention for Saturday, May 30th, between 9am and 2pm, with possible party business as late as 5pm.
Voting for Central Committee Roles
In-Person Secret Ballot – 9am to 12pm, May 30th, 2020 at LPO Office
Voting for Executive Committee Roles
In-Person Secret Ballot – 9am to 12pm, May 30th, 2020 at LPO Office
Election Tally – 1pm, May 30th, 2020 at LPO Office
The organizational meeting will include limited in-person voting to satisfy the need for a secret ballot, per FCLPO By-Laws.
There will be an election of Central Committee roles, election of Executive Committee roles, and then members are welcome to stay at LPO Office to participate in-person or go home and participate electronically.
In-person voting for Central Committee and Executive Committee roles will happen concurrently with two ballot boxes, supervised by a witness. Once the two election results have been tallied, they will be reported to all members.
As a courtesy for our new Central Committee members we will be splitting the entrances to the LPO Office, one dedicated for access to a private space for in-person voting, and the other door providing access to the main LPO Office space for participating in presentations and meetings. These will be marked clearly on arrival.
After all Committee Members have been contacted with the results from the two elections, the new Executive Committee Chair may decide, at their own discretion, if it is reasonable to hold a meeting of the new Executive Committee immediately or wait until a future time. If you are planning to run for election to the FCLPO Executive Committee we do ask that you plan to be available until 5pm, either in-person or electronically. (A quorum of 60% is required to conduct business, so if the new Chair finds at least that many newly elected members are available they can proceed with an official party meeting. A meeting without quorum cannot ratify official party business, but discussion of future business is certainly always welcome anytime.)
Please be aware, our own John Stewart, long time Libertarian activist, is running as write-in for District 12. In addition to pulling a Libertarian Primary ballot you must write-in “John Stewart” for the District 12 US Congress election.
We’ve fielded a few questions about why it is important to have a vibrant and diverse County Central Committee. Beyond the vital roles CentCom provides for electing the Executive Committee, endorsing candidates and approving By-Law amendments, it also functions as a reliable pool of Libertarian Party affiliated electors for candidate and issue petitions.
Anyone that has spent any time collecting signatures for petition knows the unique struggle the process involves. Asking, getting a yes, checking a person is eligible, getting a valid signature, filling out the form, all steps that could cause trouble down the road.
As the Franklin County Libertarian Party grows and flexes is political abilities, we will benefit from more hands pushing and eyes watching for opportunity.
Growing our Central Committee is crucial to growing a strong and dynamic Libertarian Party.
We cannot do this without you and thank you sincerely for your effort. It is appreciated. #VoteLibertarian
– Michael Sweeney
Chair, Executive Committee
Franklin County Libertarian Party of Ohio