November 1, 2013


In its continuing attack on the democratic rights of Ohio voters, the Republican Party has enacted new regulations that will effectively ban minor political parties, including the Green Party, from competing in Ohio’s 2014 elections.

Forced through the legislature on short notice and without any proponents, SB 193 outlaws all existing minor political parties in Ohio at the end of January, 2014 and imposes new party formation hurdles that must be met before those parties can reappear on the ballot. SB 193 kicks already qualified Green Party candidates off the ballot, prohibits Green party candidates from appearing in the May primary, cuts the fundraising ability of Green Party candidates in half, and limits the minor parties to 95 days of campaigning before the 2014 election.

“The new restrictions constitute an overt attack on the fundamental right of voters to have real choices at the ballot box and are clearly an attempt by the ruling republican party and its governor to destroy minor political parties leading up to the 2014 election” said Ohio Green Party co-chair Bob Fitrakis.

The Ohio Green Party has been a legally recognized political party since 2008, has shown increasing voter support in both elections and party registrations, has two sitting elected Green officials in Ohio, and is currently running five candidates for local offices across the state. This unprecedented outlawing of fully functional and legally compliant political parties shows the legislature’s increasing distaste for democracy and democratic institutions.

This particular attack appears to be part of the larger Republican campaign to limit or ban free and fair elections in Ohio, the first phase of which has been the overtly political, clearly illegal and blatantly unfair attempts by the Republicans to suppress voter turnout. Fitrakis noted that, “It is clear that Ohio’s republicans, who have a gerrymandered supermajority in the legislature, are afraid of competition at the ballot box, and are moving to eliminate any threat to the reelection campaign of Governor Kasich, who has one eye on the Ohio Statehouse in 2014 and one eye on the Whitehouse in 2016. Republicans appear fearful that democracy might break out in Ohio.”

The Green Party of Ohio agrees with those who see this as the “John Kasich Re-election Protection Act.”

Why are they attacking democracy now? “Republicans are aware that voters in Ohio and all across the county are demanding more third party choices at the ballot box. This dissatisfaction with Republicans and Democrats rests upon the justified belief of a majority of voters that the existing two party system is dysfunctional with the major parties putting the interests of their political party above the interests of the people” said Green Party 12th District Congressional Candidate Bob Hart. “In testimony before the legislature I challenged the bill sponsor and other republicans to justify kicking me off the 2014 ballot after I had already complied with all existing legal requirements for candidates, filed all required documents with the Board of Elections, registered with the Federal Elections Commission, and started campaigning and fundraising. No response was ever provided as the continuing republican attack on democracy in Ohio has no justification and SB 193 could never be construed as the act of a democratic body.”

Notably the new requirements and restrictions not only do not apply to either republicans or democrats but grant those major parties overt advantages over the minor parties in future elections.

SB 193 heading to conference committee; LPO continues fight to stay on 2014 ballot

COLUMBUS—Friday, Nov. 1

Slightly different versions of SB 193 have passed both the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House, and the two bodies are scheduled to meet Wed., Nov. 6 to attempt to reconcile the two versions.

LPO leaders and attorneys are still analyzing the changes made in the House version on Wednesday. We are willing to sit down with Republicans who are trying to push SB 193 through to Gov. Kasich’s desk at breakneck speed, but no one in the GOP leadership has agreed to do so in a meaningful way throughout this process.

Our main objection to SB 193 is that, in every version we have seen, it would force the LPO and all challenger parties to devote precious time, resources, and finances to “requalifying” for the 2014 election while Republicans and Democrats are campaigning full speed ahead. Challenger parties have the deck stacked against us in many ways, but spending campaign season with a cloud of uncertainty over our party and our candidates is, we believe, fundamentally unfair and unconstitutional.

SB 193, as it stands, would also eliminate party primary elections for challenger parties, meaning that voters would not have the right to declare their party affiliation at the ballot box—the only way possible under Ohio law—and choose their parties’ central committees (as Rs and Ds do). This infringes on every Ohio voter’s right to choose how they want to participate in the political process. For example, dozens of Ohioans who now want to take on leadership roles in the Libertarian Party of Ohio and our county groups are barred from doing so under Ohio law because they are currently classified as Republicans or Democrats. They want to change that in the May 6, 2014 primary, but that right is being threatened.

Since LPO v. Blackwell in 2006, the LPO has tried to get the attention of Ohio legislators from both Democrat and Republican parties to work together on an new, fair, constitutional election law for challenger parties that encourages more participation in the democratic process. We have been essentially ignored.

We continue to want to collaborate on a good election law that would take effect in January 2015, giving all Ohio voters, candidates, and parties as much time as possible to make the necessary adjustments before elections in 2015 and 2016.

Changing the rules for some—challenger parties— and not others—Republicans and Democrats—in the middle of the game is a concept that should trouble all Ohioans, and we encourage all involved to seek a resolution that puts our cherished democratic values of fairness, participation, and open debate ahead of politics, partisanship, and the personal interests of incumbent candidates who seem threatened by the concept of voters having more than two choices.

For more information:
Aaron Keith Harris
Communications Director
Libertarian Party of Ohio