Democrats to hold virtual session to nominate Biden to ensure he’s on Ohio’s presidential ballot

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — As state lawmakers meet to discuss changing Ohio’s 90-day presidential certification in a special legislative session, the Democratic National Committee said it’ll make a move to ensure President Biden is on the fall ballot no matter what they do this week.

Legislators of the Ohio Senate meet in a special session to discuss putting Joe Biden on the general election ballot.
The Ohio Senate meets in a special legislative session on Tuesday, May 28, 2024 to discuss putting Joe Biden on the general election ballot. [Daniel Konik | Statehouse News Bureau]
The special session began Tuesday at the order of Gov. Mike DeWine. Last week he asked supermajority Republicans to change the Aug. 7 presidential certification deadline, which is before the party’s convention, and to pass a ban on foreign contributions to ballot issue campaigns. House Republicans proposed two bills Tuesday morning on those subjects, with Democrats objecting.

House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) said these are two separate bills because “there’s a lot of Republican members who will not vote for a foreign money bill if there is a Biden fix in that.”

But Senate Democrats aren’t confident that anything will happen. So Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said Democrats asked the Biden campaign for a plan that guarantees he’ll be on the ballot and does not include the Ohio legislature.

“They will call convention leaders and be able to document enough members to vote Joe Biden, to certify that he will be on the ballot and to be able to present that to our Secretary of State,” Antonio said.

DNC chair Jaime Harrison said in a statement: “Through a virtual roll call, we will ensure that Republicans can’t chip away at our democracy through incompetence or partisan tricks and that Ohioans can exercise their right to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice.”

Senate Democrats also proposed two bills before session: a permanent fix to 90-day presidential certification and temporary fix to get Biden on ballot this fall.

Republicans have said it’s urgent to pass the foreign money ban because while there is an Ohio Elections Commission opinion that it’s already in law, there’s no enforcement. But Democrats have opposed it, saying it’s a way to weaken the campaign to enact an amendment to overhaul redistricting likely to be on the ballot this fall.

There’s a possibility no legislation will come out of this special session. There’s a dispute between the chambers about whether legislation needs to be reintroduced with new bill numbers or if it can be considered from where it was in the legislative process.
On Tuesday, Senate Republicans passed House Bill 271, which requires ballot issues to be numbered consecutively based on the prior election, and added the Biden ballot fix and the foreign money ban. The House has a voting session set for Thursday.

Democrats are expected to vote against whatever is proposed, and some Republicans could be opposed for other reasons.

“What the governor can do under the constitution is call a special session for the General Assembly to address a specific issue,” Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said. “But he can’t make us pass a law.”