Home Politics SB 193 passage revives minority party validation requirements

SB 193 passage revives minority party validation requirements

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State legislators gave their final nod of approval Wednesday to a bill that will alter the ballot validation process for Ohio’s minor parties for the 2014 primary elections.

SB 193, which has been dubbed the “John Kasich Re-election Protection Act” by third-party opponents, will require parties like The Green or The Libertarian parties to collect a minimum number of voter signatures before they can appear on the general election ballot in 2014.

Under the bill, groups defined as minority parties will now need to acquire at least 500 signatures from constituents of half of the state’s congressional districts before they can make it on the ballot.

Kasich signed the bill Wednesday following a period of roughly seven years in which there were no laws regulating the admittance of minority parties onto state election ballots.

Ohio’s minority parties spared no sentiment in openly expressing their grievances with the bill’s passage, discussing the perceived underlying political motivations of the incumbent Kasich while also exonerating the Republican Senate legislators to whom the bill’s conception is attributed.

“The Republicans are damn scared of competing with a party that actually values individual freedom,” said Aaron Keith Harris, Central Committee chairmen for the Libertarian Party of Ohio. “This is only about limiting voter choice in 2014 in order to protect Kasich and other Republicans at the ballot box.”

The LPO wasted no time in filing a suit against the State of Ohio in the United States Federal District Court with the hope of blocking implementation of the bill, citing violation of both federal and Ohio state guaranteed rights by “limiting democratic participation and choice for every Ohioan,” in a press release.

“While Republicans and Democrats are campaigning and raising money for candidates, full speed ahead in the campaigns, we’ll be standing out in the rain and snow collecting signatures,” Harris said.

Libertarians and other minority parties alike view the bill as just another example of the recurring motif of suppression of voter choice outside of the two primary parties.

“If you look throughout the last 120 years at the party era of politics in this country, the two (main) parties have done everything they can to have politicians and parties dictate the terms of democracy, when it should be the other way around,” Harris said.

Republican State Sen. Bill Seitz, primary sponsor of the bill, disagreed with the minority parties’ condemnation of the legislation, saying the need to return to a structured ballot validation process following previous LPO lawsuits that led to the overturning of the former validation law in 2006.

Since 2006, there has been no hindrance to the admission of minority parties onto state election ballots.

“We came up with a law that actually makes it easier for the minor parties to form themselves as compared to the law that the courts invalidated in 2006,” Seitz said. “What they don’t like is that it’s not as easy as it was during the seven years that there was no law.”

Seitz cited the fact that Libertarian candidates for either gubernatorial or presidential elections now only need to garner a total of three percent of an area’s popular vote – instead of five percent – in order to maintain a status of continued partisan recognition.

Additionally, the duration of the continued partisan status period has also been extended to four years instead of two with respect to the 2006 law.

“They would like to continue the current state of lawless affairs, and I get that,” Seitz said. “But that’s really not the way to go in my view.”

Seitz further rejected the idea that the bill had anything to do with the re-election efforts of Kasich.

“I just believe that when the courts invalidate one of our statutes, it’s incumbent on us to redraw the statute in a way that meets the objection of the court, and we clearly did,” Seitz said.

Seitz also said his belief that in a “worst-case scenario,” the LPO lawsuit will yield an injunction that renders the implementation of SB 193 delayed until 2015 – after the gubernatorial elections of fall 2014.

“We’re trying to do them a favor, and the objective evidence is that it will be easier for third parties to qualify under this law than it was for them under Ohio law up until 2006,” Seitz said.

While the minority parties maintain an opposition to what they perceive as mainstream political party exceptionalism, Seitz argues that there are laws for governing the formation of the two main parties as well.

“If any of the two major parties drop below 20 percent support, they will have to reform too,” Seitz said.

An emergency clause in SB 193 will additionally ensure that the law is fully enacted in time for the 2014 general elections, barring any mitigation deriving from the LPO’s only days-old lawsuit.

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