When Ohio’s legislature and secretary of state slashed early voting opportunities this year, the ACLU of Ohio fought it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While that fight has received national media attention, there’s another ongoing battle for voting rights in Ohio that you might not have heard about.
A Bad Law
Last year, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 193, which made it virtually impossible for minor political parties to place candidates on the ballot.
Read more about LPO, et al. v. Husted, et al. on our legal docket.
This bill was signed into law on the last possible date for it to have effect during the 2014 election cycle. It dissolved all the state’s minor political parties, nullified all efforts they had made to access the 2014 primary ballot, and created a problematic two-part petition system that parties have to follow if they want to form again and field candidates.
Shortly after S.B. 193 was passed into law, we challenged it in court on behalf of the Green Party of Ohio and the Constitution Party of Ohio. Early this year, we succeeded in securing ballot access for minor parties in 2014, when a federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of S.B. 193.
Since that decision only applied to the 2014 election cycle, our fight continues. In August, we asked the judge to block the law permanently because it will result in voters being stripped of their political affiliation with most, if not all, minor parties after the November election. It also will prevent Ohio voters from affiliating with these parties until at least 2017, and deny these parties ballot access until at least November 2016. We are currently waiting for the court to issue a decision.
Why Should You Care?
The abolition of slavery (championed by the fledgling Republican Party), the eight-hour workday, and women’s suffrage were all reforms initially championed by minor parties but resisted by the major parties in power. Such challenges to the status quo are vitally important in our political system, and minor parties often function as incubators for important new ideas.
Our democracy is stronger when there is a diversity of ideas—and when voters have a diversity of options on Election Day. Maneuvering to keep minor-party candidates off the ballot is one more way that the politicians in power are manipulating the system for partisan gain and putting our voting rights in danger.
Comedian and ACLU ambassador Lewis Black recently said that “elected officials shouldn’t get to choose who gets to choose elected officials.”
Elected officials also shouldn’t get to choose who runs against them.