Ohio and Alabama are playing ballot games with Biden - GulfToday

Ohio and Alabama are playing ballot games with Biden

Donald Trump, Joe Biden

Donald Trump and Joe Biden. File

Patricia Lopez, Tribune News Service

Call it political tit-for-tat. Election officials in Ohio and Alabama have warned President Joe Biden that he might be left off their ballots in November because the Democrats’ mid-August nominating convention is past their deadlines. This is a new and dangerous level of partisan gamesmanship. The top election officials in both states happen to be Republicans. Even though both Biden and Donald Trump have secured enough delegates for their parties’ nomination, it doesn’t become official until the nominating conventions this summer. The Democratic National Convention, which begins Aug. 19, means Biden would miss the Ohio deadline by 12 days and the Alabama one by about a week. In this day and age, there is no need for a state to demand 89 days advance notice— or even 82 days — to include a candidate on a ballot.

Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, told Cleveland.com that no major-party presidential nominee, let alone the incumbent president, has ever been excluded from a state ballot over what is essentially a technicality. Deliberately leaving the Democratic nominee off the ballot because a deadline was missed by two weeks or less is a cynical and offensive approach to what should be a mostly nonpartisan office. Secretaries of state, no matter their party, are charged with administering elections on behalf of all voters. Most take a fair and scrupulously neutral approach to the job.

And yet, in a letter to Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters, the office of Secretary of State Frank LaRose said that “the Democratic National Committee must either move up its nominating convention or the Ohio General Assembly must act by May 9, 2024 (90 days prior to a new law’s effective date) to create an exception to this statutory requirement.” LaRose, by the way, won Trump’s endorsement back when he was running for secretary of state in 2022. The idea of scrapping and rescheduling an entire national convention is absurd. The location, Chicago, was chosen a year ago. Some 50,000 visitors are expected to attend. Dozens of hotels have convention dates locked in to host delegates and other attendees. Of course, the far easier path would be the legislative exemption, but LaRose has not offered to seek one, nor has the GOP-controlled Ohio Legislature expressed interest in granting one.

That’s curious because the state granted such an exemption in 2020 when Biden and then-President Trump both had late nominating conventions. Alabama also made a temporary accommodation that year, cutting its deadline to 75 days to ensure the Republican National Convention would be in the window. Ohio also granted an exemption in 2012, when Republican and Democratic conventions were held after the deadline.

So, what’s the problem this time? Only the Democratic candidate would be affected. The Republican National Convention is July 15-18, so there is plenty of time for Trump to make the ballot. Biden officials have noted that state officials can grant provisional ballot access certification and that in 2020, Alabama, Illinois, Montana, and Washington all allowed provisional certification for Democratic and Republican nominees. However, a spokesperson for Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen appeared to be taking a much harder line, telling CNN, “Under Alabama law, there are no ‘provisional certifications’ for candidates. All candidates must comply with current Alabama law to gain ballot access.”

This sudden fanatical adherence to an obscure administrative deadline is a farce. Political conventions are often held in mid-to-late August. In 2008, Republicans waited until Sept. 1 to kick off their nominating convention, a week after the Democratic convention on Aug. 26. Deadlines requiring these huge lead times are themselves an anachronism, save for those seeking to cause mischief.

Related articles

Other Articles