Ohio passes bill to ensure Biden appears on November ballot -- but DNC still plans to hold virtual roll call

The Biden ballot fix bill and a foreign money bill now head to Gov. DeWine.

May 31, 2024, 4:26 PM

Twenty-three Ohio Senate Republicans joined Democrats on Friday during a special legislative session to pass a bill that extends the state's ballot certification deadline so that President Joe Biden would be eligible for November's general ballot.

The bill's passage comes despite a move by the Democratic National Committee earlier this week that evades the original scheduling issue entirely.

The state Senate also passed a bill that would bar foreign contributions to ballot issue campaigns. It passed without any Democratic support.

Both bills were passed by the state House on Thursday and now will head to Gov. Mike DeWine's desk for his signature. The Republican governor had called the legislature into a special session this week in order to address these issues.

After DeWine signs the bill, Ohio's ballot certification deadline will be Aug. 23, following the Democratic Party's nominating convention, which starts on Aug. 19.

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the verdict in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial and on the Middle East, from the State Dining Room of the White House, May 31, 2024, in Washington.
Evan Vucci/AP

Earlier this week, the DNC announced it would virtually nominate the president ahead of its in-person convention in order to work around the need for an Ohio extension in the deadline. With the passage of the Biden ballot fix in the state, the DNC plan in not necessary -- however the DNC said it is planning to move forward with its virtual roll call nomination of Biden ahead of Aug. 7, Ohio's original deadline.

In a statement, a DNC spokesperson said they "already" took their own action despite "Ohio Republicans' shenanigans" of pushing through a separate bill through the special legislative session that bars foreign contributions to ballot issue campaigns -- a bill that Democrats say is a direct response to the ballot measure last year that enshrined abortion protections into the state's constitution.

"Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states, and we are already taking action to make sure that's the case, regardless of Ohio Republicans' shenanigans," Hannah Muldavin, DNC senior spokesperson said in a statement.

Several Republicans did not vote for the passage of the Biden ballot fix bill. Others said they would support it, even in light of former President Donald Trump's historic conviction on Thursday.

The United Center, the site of the 2024 Democratic National Convention, is seen during a media walk-through in Chicago, Ill., May 22, 2024.
Francis Chung/politico/AP

"This bill does give me heartburn. And while the Democrats nationally are blatantly attempting to suppress the votes by weaponizing the justice system and their shenanigans -- shenanigans and kangaroo court, it is tempting to say to the DNC that if you can't follow Ohio existing law, then you don't deserve to have your candidate on the ballot," said Republican Sen. Kristina Roegner on the Senate floor on Friday.

"But two wrongs don't make a right. And we won't stoop to their level," Roegner added.

Democrats applauded Republicans for allowing Biden to be on Ohio's ballot.

"We have a very divided country right now. And my hope is that actions such as [those] we're taking right now with House Bill Two are an example of how we can work together. As my colleagues across the aisle just said: to have a fair fight, to bring it on. I think that's awesome," said Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio said.

After both bills were passed, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who initially alerted Democrats about the Biden ballot access discrepancy in April, only applauded the General Assembly's passage of the foreign money bill.

"As I've said, Ohioans deserve confidence in the integrity of our elections. Although there's been a concentrated effort to confuse this issue through aggressive soccer-flopping and misinformation, this matter is simple: foreign nationals should not be able to interfere with our elections," LaRose said in a statement.

"The legislation passed today takes an aggressive step toward banning foreign nationals from funding Ohio elections and further cements Ohio's standing as a national leader on election integrity. I applaud the General Assembly for moving quickly to close this campaign finance loophole and I call on every state, as well as Congress, to pass similar measures."