The Democratic Party’s delay in holding its national convention has put President Joe Biden at risk of missing Ohio’s November ballot. Ohio GOP leaders rejected a Democratic plan to provisionally certify Biden ahead of the state’s August 7 deadline to finalize the ballot.

With the Democratic convention now scheduled for August 19, the party sought to assure Biden’s place with a preliminary certification. But Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State and Attorney General insisted state law doesn’t allow for such a workaround.

Ohio GOP Rejects Plan to Get Biden on November Ballot

The Democrats faced an unexpected roadblock in their effort to get Joe Biden on Ohio’s presidential ballot. State GOP officials rejected the party’s proposal to certify Biden and Harris before the nomination is official provisionally.

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Secretary of State Frank LaRose had warned the Ohio Democrats that Biden risked missing the ballot if they didn’t meet the August 7 deadline to certify candidates – 90 days before the election as required by law.

Biden Already Won Enough Delegates

In a letter, the Democrats’ attorney, Don McTigue, argued that Biden had already won enough delegates to clinch the nomination.

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McTigue said that Denying Biden a spot on the ballot would deprive his supporters of the chance to vote for their preferred candidate.

Ohio Law Requires Ballot Certification 90 Days Before Election

According to Ohio election law, candidates must be certified for the ballot at least 90 days before the election. For the November 3 election this year, that deadline falls on August 5.

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However, the Democratic National Convention, where Joe Biden will officially become the nominee, isn’t until August 17. This leaves Biden at risk of missing the Ohio ballot.

The Law is The Law No Exceptions

Ohio law does not provide exceptions for nominating conventions that fall after the 90-day deadline. The law requires the actual certification of candidates by the deadline.

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Yost told LaRose in a letter that “the law mandates the Democratic Party to actually certify its president and vice-president candidates on or before August 7, 2024. No alternative process is permitted.”

Options Running Out for Biden’s Party

With Yost rejecting the provisional certification plan, Democrats have limited options left to get Biden on the Ohio ballot.

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They can try to get the Republican-controlled legislature to pass an exemption to the deadline, as they did in 2020, but Republican leaders say that is unlikely. Senate President Matt Huffman said “it’s a Democratic problem” that requires a “Democratic solution.”

Other States Also at Risk

Ohio isn’t the only state facing this ballot deadline issue. Alabama and Washington also have deadlines before the Democratic convention. However, Washington’s Democratic Secretary of State has said he will accept a provisional certification.

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In 2020, several states, including Oklahoma, Illinois, Washington, and Montana, accepted provisional certifications from both parties when conventions were delayed.

Democrats Want to Provisionally Certify Biden Before Convention

Given the Democrats’ convention delay, Ohio Democrats fear Biden won’t make it onto the state’s November 5 ballot. According to state law, ballot certification must occur 90 days before an election, which is August 7 this year.

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In a letter to Secretary of State Frank LaRose, attorney Don McTigue said the Democratic Party would provisionally certify Biden and Harris before the August 7 deadline.

There Are Only Two Choices for Democrats

Pfeiffer’s letter seems to leave Democrats two choices: rely on lawmakers or sue. Lawmakers could pass an exemption to the deadline, as in 2020.

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But legislative leaders seem unlikely to help. “It’s a Democratic problem. There should have to be a Democratic solution,” Senate President Matt Huffman said.

Lawsuit Possible but Risky

While a lawsuit remains an option, the Ohio Democratic Party faces an uphill battle. Even if a court ordered LaRose to include Biden on the ballot, the process would likely take weeks if not months to play out.

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And there are no guarantees the party would ultimately prevail. Courts may be hesitant to override explicit state election laws, even during unusual circumstances.

State Legislature Could Pass Deadline Exemption for Biden

The Ohio state legislature has the power to provide relief for the Biden campaign by passing an exemption to the 90-day ballot certification deadline.

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Given the extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic delaying the Democratic National Convention, lawmakers could make an exception for both parties, as they did in 2020.

Republican Leaders Unlikely to Help Democrats with Ballot Issue

The Ohio Republican leadership appears unwilling to help Democrats get Joe Biden on the state’s November ballot.

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According to Senate President Matt Huffman, the issue is a “Democratic problem” that requires a “Democratic solution.”

Time is Running Out for Biden in Ohio and Other States

With deadlines fast approaching in Ohio and other states, Biden’s campaign will need to decide how to ensure his name appears on as many ballots as possible.

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Though primary victories made him the presumptive nominee and earned him enough delegates to clinch the nomination, strictly following each state’s election laws could still keep his name off some ballots if the issue isn’t resolved.

Biden’s Campaign Spokesperson Assures Voters

A Biden campaign spokesperson said the former vice president will be on the ballot in all 50 states. However, the campaign didn’t specify the next steps in Ohio.

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State officials can grant “provisional ballot access certification prior to the conclusion of presidential nominating conventions,” the spokesperson said.

Biden’s Bumpy Path to A Second Term

So, with the Democratic National Convention scheduled after Ohio’s ballot deadline, it seems Biden’s path to appearing on the ballot in the critical swing state this November is murky at best.

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The Biden campaign remains adamant he’ll be on all 50 ballots nationwide, but it’s unclear how they’ll make that happen in Ohio if Democrats can’t find a legal workaround or rely on unlikely Republican assistance.