Ohio governor calls special session to pass legislation ensuring President Biden is on 2024 ballot

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said Thursday that he is calling a rare special session of the General Assembly next week to pass legislation ensuring that President Joe Biden is on the state’s 2024 ballot.

The special session was called for Tuesday.

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

The question of whether Biden will appear on the ballot has become entangled in a partisan legislative fight to keep foreign money out of state ballot campaigns, a year after cash tied to a Swiss billionaire boosted a successful effort to enshrine abortion rights in the solidly red state’s constitution.

The Democratic National Convention, where Biden is to be formally nominated, falls after Ohio’s ballot deadline of Aug. 7. The convention will be held Aug. 19-22 in Chicago.

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

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

DeWine said he spoke to LaRose on Thursday and he said we’re “up against a wall.” LaRose told him next Wednesday is the drop-dead deadline.

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

DeWine said his proclamation will allow for passing a Senate version of the bill that also bans foreign nationals from contributing to Ohio ballot measures.

The proposal has been described as a “poison pill” in the fractured Ohio House, where Republicans rely on Democratic votes for pass some legislation.

In a statement, a spokesman 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 outlawing foreign campaign contributions, while at the same time fixing the Democratic Party’s error that kept Joe Biden off the November ballot,” the statement said.

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

In a statement following the announcement, state Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters accused GOP lawmakers of politicizing the process and disenfranchising Ohioans.

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

“Meanwhile, Republican politicians who hold supermajorities in both chambers at the statehouse must put politics aside and pass a clean bill to put Joe Biden on the ballot,” she continued. “Despite Republicans’ political gamesmanship, we’re confident Joe Biden will be on the Ohio ballot.”

Messages seeking comment were left with state House Speaker Jason Stephens’ spokesperson and the Biden campaign.

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

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

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