Ohio's GOP governor calls a special session to pass legislation that would put Biden on the ballot in 2024

The Republican government of Ohio. Mike DeWine said Thursday he is calling a rare special session of the General Assembly next week to pass legislation that would put President Joe Biden on the state ballot in 2024.

The special session was set for Tuesday.

“Ohio is running out of time to get Joe Biden, the sitting president of the United States, on the ballot this fall,” DeWine said. “Failure to do this is simply unacceptable. This is ridiculous. This is (an) absurd situation.”

The question of whether Mr. Biden will appear on the ballot has become embroiled in a partisan legislative battle to keep foreign money out of state ballot campaigns, a year after cash tied to a Swiss billionaire boosted a successful effort to to firmly anchor abortion rights in the elections. red state constitution.

The Democratic National Convention, where Mr Biden will be formally nominated, falls after Ohio's voting deadline of August 7. The convention will take place from August 19 to 22. in Chicago.

Since Ohio changed the certification deadline from 60 to 90 days before the general election, state lawmakers have had to adjust the requirement twice, in 2012 and 2020, to accommodate candidates from both parties. Any change was only temporary.

This year, lawmakers were unable to come up with a solution to the May 9 limit set by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

DeWine said he spoke with LaRose on Thursday and said we are “up against a wall.” LaRose told him the deadline is next Wednesday.

“I've been waiting. I've been patient. And my patience has run out,” DeWine said.

DeWine said his proclamation will allow passage of a Senate version of the bill, which would also ban foreigners from contributing to Ohio's voting measures.

The proposal is being described as a “poison pill” in the fractured Ohio House, where Republicans depend on Democratic votes to pass certain legislation.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Senate President Matt Huffman encouraged House leadership to allow a vote on House Bill 114.

“We agree with the governor. It is time to protect Ohio's elections by banning foreign campaign contributions, while righting the Democratic Party's mistake that kept Joe Biden from voting in November,” the statement said.

DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney said after the governor spoke that a “clean” House bill that would permanently change the voting deadline could also be considered.

Ohio House Democratic Leader Allison Russo said via social platform X that money from foreign donors is already illegal and that the real problem is dirty money going to candidates.

“GOP strategy: Change the rules if you can't win,” Russo said. “They are terrified of citizens making their voices heard in the form of direct democracy, so now they want to completely undermine citizens' ability to finance ballot initiatives. Any talk of 'foreign money' is a red herring.”

Elizabeth Walters, chair of the state Democratic Party, accused Republican lawmakers of politicizing the process and disenfranchising Ohioans.

“We must pass the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, which requires dark money groups to identify their funders, disclose their spending and strengthen the ban on foreign money,” Walters said in a statement.

“In the meantime, Republican politicians who hold supermajorities in both chambers of the state House must put politics aside and pass a clean bill to get Joe Biden on the ballot,” she continued. “Despite the Republicans' political play, we are confident that Joe Biden will appear on the ballot in Ohio.”

Republican House Speaker Jason Stephens said lawmakers are using language that bans foreign influence from voting campaigns without harming citizens' rights.

“We look forward to real solutions that will actually pass through both chambers next week and solve the problems,” Stephens said in a statement.

And fellow Republican J.D. Vance, the U.S. senator from Ohio, issued a statement saying calling a special session is a “reasonable compromise.”

Vance expressed confidence that former President Donald Trump would beat Biden regardless of whether he is on the ballot, but he said that “many Trump voters could be stuck at home if there is no real presidential race, and that will affect our voting really harm. races for Senate and Congress. We have to play chess.”

The Republican Party of Ohio strongly supports DeWine's decision, Chairman Alex M. Triantafilou said.

There was no immediate response from the Biden campaign to a message seeking comment.

Alabama recently changed its law to ensure Biden will appear on the fall ballots. The Alabama bill offered the president accommodations similar to those made four years ago for then-President Donald Trump.

The last time Ohio lawmakers were sent back to Columbus in such a manner was in 2004, under Republican Gov. Bob Taft, to consider campaign finance reforms.

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