Partisan Effort to Restrict Ballot Access in Ohio Blocked by Federal Judge

On Tuesday, a federal judge temporarily blocked new restrictions on ballot access for third parties in Ohio. The decision is a victory for third parties in the state as well as advocates for greater ballot access for candidates not affiliated with the two mainstream political parties.

The law, which was recently passed by the Republican-controlled Ohio Legislature and signed into law by Republican Governor John Kasich in November, would have — among other things — voided eligible parties’ existing nominating petitions and required third-party candidates to collect more than 20,000 signatures by February 5. This comes after Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted declared that third parties like the Libertarian Party were automatically granted access to the ballot and just in time for the 2014 elections.

Previous qualifications for ballot access in Ohio were deemed unconstitutional in 2006, which has left ballot access up to the discretion of the secretary of state. According to the brief New York Times report on the story, no minor party received the percentage of votes necessary in the last election to remain qualified for ballot access in 2014 under the new law.

Libertarian candidate Charlie Earl was among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the state. Earl is expected to challenge Kasich in the 2014 gubernatorial election, something that would have been unlikely under the new law. With the temporary injunction in place, Earl can now appear on the general election ballot.

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