DeWine calls General Assembly special session to pass presidential ballot fix

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May 23—Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday that he will call a special session of the state's General Assembly next Tuesday in order to pass legislation to allow President Joe Biden to appear on the ballot as well as to ban campaign spending from foreign nationals on ballot issues.

In doing so, he called upon Article III, section 8 of the Ohio constitution, which allows the governor to convene a special session of the legislature on "extraordinary occasions" where only certain measures will be discussed.

"This is simply unacceptable," the governor said, saying that time was running out for legislation to pass to allow both major presidential candidates to appear on the ballot.

"It's important that when [Ohio voters] go to cast their ballot that Joe Biden is on the ballot as well as Donald Trump," he said.

He said that in the past the legislature had passed short-term fixes to deal with the problem, saying that they are "very easy to do." The governor also said that there is a need for a long-term fix for this problem, but said, "For now, I will certainly be satisfied with a short-term fix."

DeWine said that the special session would need to be early next week, saying that Ohio is "right up against the wall" on timing to fix this problem, and would need to have it done by Wednesday.

"I have waited, I have been patient, but my patience has run out," he said.

Reporters questioned DeWine's including the measure to ban foreign money from state ballot initiative campaigns, a measure that previously stopped the ballot fix from passing when it was added to the bill by Senate Republicans, due to opposition from Ohio Democrats and divisions among the state's Republican legislators.

DeWine repeatedly defended including the measure in the special session, saying he thought it was important to ban money from people who aren't Ohio citizens from being used for Ohio ballot campaigns.

The Associated Press reported that the measure came a year after money tied to a Swiss billionaire was used to boost the campaign to enshrine abortion rights in the Ohio constitution.

After the announcement, Ohio Democratic Party Chair Elizabeth Walters released a statement criticizing the actions of Ohio Republicans during the process of trying to pass the ballot fix.

"Throughout this process, corrupt GOP politicians in Columbus have prevented Ohioans from choosing who they want to be president, politicized the process and used it to play political games with Ohioans' ability to hold their government accountable," she wrote. She also urged the passage of the Ohio Anti-Corruption Act, which she said "would require dark money groups to identify their funders, disclose their spending, and strengthen the ban on foreign money."

"Meanwhile, Republican politicians who hold supermajorites in both chambers at the statehouse must put politics aside and pass a clean bill to put Joe Biden on the ballot. Despite Republicans' political gamesmanship, we're confident Joe Biden will be on the Ohio ballot," she said.

Senator J.D. Vance released a statement supporting calling the special session, calling the inclusion of the foreign funding measure in the session a "reasonable compromise." He also claimed that Trump would defeat Biden either way, but said that "a lot of Trump voters might sit at home if there isn't a real presidential race," which could hurt Republican candidates in other races.

In a release, Ohio Republican Party Communications Director Dan Lusheck said that the party agreed "wholeheartedly" with the decision to call an emergency session to place President Joe Biden on the ballot.

"We, along with our Senate nominee Bernie Moreno, Senator JD Vance, and countless other Republicans, strongly support the idea that Ohioans deserve the opportunity to cast their votes for their preferred major-party candidate and that we also deserve to have elections that are free from foreign financial interests. We encourage all legislators to get this done for the good of all Ohioans."

The problem with getting President Biden on the ballot came about due to the timing of the Democratic National Convention, which will be held Aug. 19-22 in Chicago. Ohio's ballot deadline is Aug. 7.