Ohio legislators revamp rules on third-party access to the ballot

When do minor political parties qualify to have their candidates appear on state ballots? The answer varies widely across the country, depending on each state’s set of ballot-access requirements. Ohio became the latest state to change its law with this fall’s passage of SB 193. Two days after the bill was signed into law, the Libertarian Party of Ohio challenged the measure in federal court. The legal showdown comes less than a decade after a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Ohio’s previous rules were too restrictive.

Under the new law, minor political parties will appear on the 2014 ballot if they collect signatures of registered voters that equal at least 0.5 percent of the vote from the last presidential or gubernatorial election, The Toledo Blade reports. They can then remain on Ohio ballots for four years by capturing 2 percent of the statewide vote for governor in 2014 or president in 2016. These two thresholds (number of signatures and vote percentage) increase in ensuing years.

Except for Nebraska and South Dakota, minor-party candidates appeared on ballots in the last gubernatorial elections of every Midwestern state. Minnesota had the region’s highest number of minor parties on the ballot (five) and largest percentage of votes cast for a third party — 12 percent for the Independence Party candidate.

Stateline Midwest ~ December 20131.76 MB