Voting Rights

Ohio Legislature Creates Obstacles for Minor Party Ballot Access


Update – 03.20.15: A federal court determined that the statute cannot bar minor parties from petitioning to enter elections held in odd-numbered years. The ruling also cautions state officials not to attempt at some later date to apply the law in a manner inconsistent with that interpretation. Read the press release.

On November 6, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 193, and Governor Kasich immediately signed it into law. SB 193 establishes new regulations for the participation of minor political parties in Ohio elections.

SB 193 will severely limit the ability of minor parties to participate in the political process. Under the new law, third parties now need to collect at least 500 signatures from at least half of the state’s congressional districts in order to gain recognition from the state. In some cases, candidates will need signatures from citizens who have not voted in primary elections for a different political party for the past two years, which is not easy in Ohio’s closed primary system. The law also prohibits minor parties from holding primaries, making it extremely difficult for them to establish statewide support. These are just a few examples of the many problematic regulations established by this law, which has already prompted a federal lawsuit.

This deeply flawed law takes the power away from voters to decide which parties and candidates deserve support and effectively regulates minor parties out of the political process. Read ACLU of Ohio testimony against SB 193, and for more information on this bill, visit our legislation page.