Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Libertarian, Green, Socialist and Constitution parties secure access to May primary ballot in Ohio

by John Michael Spinelli

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Republican and Democratic Parties in Ohio will no longer have a lock on access to the ballot now that state election officials, making good on a court decision in the fall of 2006 that found the laws for political party formation and ballot access were unconstitutional, have enabled candidates running under the party name of Libertarian, Green, Socialist and Constitutional to join in the fun that is our representative system of government.

The good news for these outsider parties came in a state directive to all 88 county Boards of Election (BOE) that given that the General Assembly has not yet enacted a new ballot access statute following the September 6, 2006 court decision, and given the high likelihood of success on the merits of any new lawsuit to obtain ballot access, they are "hereby instructed to continue to recognize these political parties and to grant candidates of these political parties ballot access in the 2010 election cycle."

This decision now gives candidates of these four minor parties to qualify for the ballot under their party labels, an accomplishment the two major political parties -- Republicans and Democrats -- do not necessarily consider good for them or their candidates.

Democrats will point to the race for president in 2000, when then-Green Party nominee Ralph Nader won enough votes in Florida to deny Al Gore the White House. Republicans could point to a local race, like the 15th District Congressional race in Central Ohio in 2008, as an example of how their candidate could lose by a slim margin due to a newcomer to the ballot who has little chance of winning the race outright but whose presence can take away enough votes such that the opponent emerges victorious.

Robert M. Owens, chairman of the Constitution Party of Ohio, told one newspaper reporter that Democrats and Republicans "have had a monopoly on the political process for a long time, and this action ends that monopoly."

Dennis Spisak, running as the Green Party candidate for Ohio governor this year, said, for the first time, Ohio voters will be able to vote for Green Party candidates in the upcoming May 4, 2010 primary election. What this means, he said, is that "you can now walk into your polling place on Primary Election Day, ask for a Green Party Primary Ballot, and vote for Green candidates for state and local office as well as Green candidates for the state and county party central committees. Voting in the Green Primary will make you a member of the Green Party."

Continuing, Spisak said the "requirements to get your own name on the ballot as a candidate for public and party office have been drastically altered making it much easier to participate as a candidate for a newly formed minor party."

For Ohio BOEs, some of which are perennially cash strapped, greater expenses will follow as they will be required to hold a primary election in an even-numbered year for a major or minor political party in a precinct if any candidate seeking the nomination of that political party is certified to the ballot for a political subdivision in which that precinct is located by the secretary of state or by the board of elections, which necessarily means they may have to print as many as six different party primary ballots in May, the month of Ohio's next primary election.

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