Ohio Senate session regarding Senate Bill 193
The Ohio Senate voted 22-11 this week to pass legislation that would set new rules for minor political parties in Ohio.
The legislation, Senate Bill 193, would relax vote thresholds for minor parties to be recognized by the state, and it would push back the deadline for parties to submit paperwork for a general election.
Senator Bill Seitz, the Cincinnati Republican sponsoring the bill, has said the legislation is needed as state rules governing minor parties have been in limbo since a federal court held in 2006 that they were overly restrictive.
Since then, the state has continued to recognize four minor parties: the Libertarians, the Green Party, the Constitution Party, and the Socialist Party.
Seitz said on the Senate floor that new rules are needed to ensure recognized political parties have some proof of support. He said the current situation is like the "wild, wild West.
"Obviously, if you are in one of those minor parties, you probably would like that current lawless state of affairs to continue, because you get to stay on the ballot without demonstrating any modicum of public support," Seitz said. "I don't think that's appropriate public policy, and that's why we drafted Senate Bill 193."
The American Civil Liberties Union is raising concerns along with third parties in Ohio, telling lawmakers that the proposals' petition requirements are onerous and the changes come too close to Ohio's 2014 statewide elections.
Libertarian and Green party officials renewed complaints that the reforms would make it extremely difficult for them to participate in next year’s elections, and that the leglislation effectively "bans" their party from the 2014 election.
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