COLUMBUS—December 2, 2016—The five-person committee that filed petitions to place the Libertarian presidential ticket of Gary Johnson and William Weld on the November ballot in Ohio filed paperwork with the office of Secretary of State Jon Husted claiming party status and ballot access for the next four years.
The five committee members, all currently members of the LPO's Central Committee, are requesting identification of the party as "Libertarian" and an immediate response to allow the party to place candidates on the Ohio primary ballot in 2017 in those jurisdictions in which odd-year elections are partisan.
“Ohio’s current ballot access law for parties other than Republican or Democrat says that if a group's presidential candidate or slate of electors polls three percent, they're entitled to recognition as a political party for four years. Well, we're a group of voters and our slate of electors polled better than three percent of the vote. By the letter of the law, that means we're a party now,” said Scott Pettigrew, one of the members of the committee and the current Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of Ohio Executive Committee. "The section does not say that the group had to have been a recognized party either at the time of filing or at the time of the election.”
"We're requesting action by Secretary Husted's office no later than December 15," says Pettigrew. "We believe we're entitled to this recognition and to ballot access, and we believe that we're entitled to sufficient time to make full use of this access."
According to the Ohio Revised Code, Section 3517.01(A)(1)(a): "Except as otherwise provided in this division, at the most recent regular state election, the group polled for its candidate for governor in the state or nominees for presidential electors at least three per cent of the entire vote cast for that office . A group that meets the requirements of this division remains a political party for a period of four years after meeting those requirements." The Johnson-Weld ticket earned 3.17 percent of Ohioans' presidential votes in the November 8 election.
Pettigrew says that the petitioning effort to place the party back on the ballot will continue, just in case this effort is unsuccessful. "The LPO has had past conflicts with state government in general and the Secretary of State's office in particular," Pettigrew noted, "Nothing ever comes easy for Libertarians. We know this claim won't sit well with the Republican Party which controls state government. But the wording on this code section couldn't be clearer. We're hoping that Secretary Husted's office will do the right thing here, but we're prepared to go back to court on this if we must. This isn't just an issue for Libertarians. This is an issue of fairness for all the voters of Ohio. They're entitled to a choice that isn't limited by the interests of the political party in power."