The presidential and vice presidential candidates of the Libertarian Party, claiming their poll numbers show considerable support with voters, asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to place their names on the ballot in Ohio for the November 8 election. State officials have been told to reply by tomorrow afternoon.
Presidential candidate Gary Johnson and his running mate, William Weld, have been ruled off that ballot by state officials because they had not shown enough prior voter support to qualify, under Ohio law. Their lawyers said they will be on the November ballot everywhere else in the country.
They also noted that they are making a separate effort to get on the Ohio ballot as independent candidates, but not as the slate of the Libertarian Party — a situation that they argued will impair the party’s ability to build support with the state’s voters. Their filing contended that their presidential slate is drawing upwards of 10 percent in national polls, and they thus may have a chance to influence how the November election comes out.
Their plea was filed with Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency legal matters for the geographic area that is the Sixth Circuit, which includes Ohio. They are challenging a ruling late last month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, rejecting their challenges to the denial of ballot access.
It would take the votes of five Justices to block the Sixth Circuit ruling and assure them a place on the Ohio ballot, at least until the Supreme Court could hear and decide a formal appeal.
The Libertarian Party’s attorneys said that the makeup of the presidential ballot for the general election must be completed by August 30.
Ohio allows minor parties to get on an election ballot either by holding a primary election if they meet a threshold of voter supporter in a prior election, or by nominating petition. The Libertarians claim that they were illegally denied the option of holding a primary, because Ohio Republican leaders joined in a “conspiracy” with state officials to deprive the party of a chance to have a candidate run for governor in a prior election.
They have not been able to fulfill the petition requirement because of the way Ohio state law defines membership in a party, and how that affects the voters from whom a minor party can seek signatures on a petition to nominate.
The Sixth Circuit Court, in ruling against the party’s challenge, offered some sympathy for the party, noting that it has had to struggle for years to try to get on election ballots, and maintain that access for succeeding elections. But, this time, the Circuit Court ruled, the party had not made its case that it was subjected to an unconstitutional burden by the provisions of a 2013 law that the party has been challenging since its passage.
In its plea for legal help from the Supreme Court, the party’s lawyers said that the state Republican Party has repeatedly acted to thwart ballot access to minor party candidates, and some of those efforts have been struck down by prior federal court rulings.