Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Ohio
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| Ballot access for major and minor party candidates |
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|Ballot access information by state|
- 1 Year-specific dates
- 2 Political parties
- 3 Process to establish a political party
- 4 Process to become a candidate
- 5 Petition requirements
- 6 Campaign finance
- 7 Election-related agencies
- 8 Term limits
- 9 Congressional partisanship
- 10 State legislative partisanship
- 11 Recent news
- 12 See also
- 13 External links
- 14 References
- United States Congress
- State executive offices (e.g., governor, attorney general, secretary of state)
- Ohio General Assembly
This page contains information on specific filing dates for each election year, how to become a candidate, how to create a political party, campaign finance requirements, state agency contacts involved in the election process, and term limits in Ohio. Information on running for election as a presidential candidate or for county and municipal offices is not included.
Note: If you have any questions or comments about this page, email us.
- See also: Ohio elections, 2015
There are no regularly scheduled state executive, state legislative or congressional elections in Ohio in 2015.
To view historical dates for 2014, click [show] to expand the section.
As of October 2013, there were six recognized political parties in Ohio. To be officially recognized by the state, a party must fulfill certain requirements (detailed below, under "Process to establish a political party").
In some states, a candidate may choose to have a label other than that of an officially recognized party appear alongside his or her name on the ballot. Such labels are called political party designations. A political party designation would be used when a candidate qualifies as an independent, but prefers to use a different label. Ohio does not allow candidates to identify in this way. A total of 25 states allow candidates to use political party designations in non-presidential elections.
The 11 states listed below (and Washington, D.C.) do not provide a process for political organizations to gain qualified status in advance of an election. Instead, in these states, an aspirant party must first field candidates using party designations. If the candidate or candidates win the requisite votes, the organization may then be recognized as an official political party. In these states, a political party can be formed only if the candidate in the general election obtains a specific number of votes. The number of votes required and type of race vary from state to state. Details can be found on the state-specific requirements pages.
Process to establish a political party
Passed by the Ohio General Assembly and signed into law by Governor John Kasich on November 6, 2013, S.B. 193 made significant revisions to the processes regulating ballot access for minor parties and their candidates, which are established in Title 35, Chapter 3517, Section 01 of the Ohio Revised Code.
- "[At] the most recent regular state election, the group polled for its candidate for governor in the state or nominees for presidential electors at least three percent of the entire vote cast for that office. A group that meets the requirements of this division remains a political party for a period of four years after meeting those requirements." For example, in 2010, 3,852,469 were cast for governor. In order for a newly established political party to maintain state recognition, its candidate for governor would have had to win at least 115,575 votes.
- "The group filed with the secretary of state, subsequent to its failure to meet the [above] requirements, a party formation petition that meets all of the following requirements:
- "The petition is signed by qualified electors equal in number to at least 1 percent of the total vote for governor or nominees for presidential electors at the most recent election for such office.
- "The petition is signed by not fewer than 500 qualified electors from each of at least a minimum of one-half of the congressional districts in the state. If an odd number of congressional districts exists in this state, the number of districts that results from dividing the number of congressional districts by two shall be rounded up to the next whole number."
- "The petition declares the petitioners' intention of organizing a political party, the name of which shall be stated in the declaration and of participating in the succeeding general election, held in even-numbered years, that occurs more than 125 days after the date of filing."
- "The petition designates a committee of not less than three nor more than five individuals of the petitioners, who shall represent the petitioners in all matters relating to the petition. Notice of all matters or proceedings pertaining to the petition may be served on the committee, or any of them, either personally or by registered mail, or by leaving such notice at the usual place of residence of each of them."
For more information regarding petition requirements, see below. When a party formation petition pursuant to the aforementioned requirements is filed with the secretary of state, the party comes into legal existence on the date of filing and is eligible to nominate candidates to appear on the ballot in the general election that occurs more than 125 days after the date of filing. The newly formed party must submit to the secretary of state no later than 75 days before the general election a slate of candidates to appear on the ballot. Prior to the passage of S.B. 193, newly formed political parties were eligible to participate in primary elections that occurred more than 120 days after the date of filing.
Any party that receives between 3 and 20 percent of the total votes cast for governor or presidential electors is considered a "minor political party." A newly formed political party is considered a "minor political party" until it first participates in an election for governor or president, after which point such status is determined by the party's performance in the election.
Although the legislation was initially set to take effect on February 5, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson ruled on January 7, 2014 that due process bars the state from implementing the law in the 2014 election. In his decision, Watson wrote, "The Ohio Legislature moved the proverbial goalpost in the midst of the game. Stripping the Plaintiffs of the opportunity to participate in the 2014 primary in these circumstances would be patently unfair."
Libertarian statewide candidates disqualified
On March 7, 2014, Secretary of State Jon Husted indicated that he had removed the Libertarian Party's statewide candidates from the party's primary ballot (including gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl). Husted claimed that the paid petitioner who gathered signatures on behalf of the Libertarian Party failed to identify his or her employer on the petition.
The Libertarian Party filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent Husted from printing the primary ballots without the names of the party's statewide candidates. The party argued that prior precedent prevented the Husted from disqualifying candidates on the grounds that he had disqualified the party's 2014 statewide slate. The Libertarian Party further contended that it is unconstitutional to require a circulator to identify his or her employer or to treat a paid circulator differently from a volunteer circulator.
United States District Court Judge Michael Watson scheduled a hearing on the matter for March 11, 2014. On March 19, 2014, Watson ruled that the circulator law is indeed constitutional, thereby reaffirming Husted's decision to remove the Libertarian candidates form the ballot. The Libertarian Party and the impacted candidates appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. On March 21, 2014, the Sixth Circuit agreed to expedite the case. The court heard the case on April 22, 2014. On May 1, the court ruled in favor of Husted. That same day, the Libertarian Party requested that the U.S. Supreme Court intervene and have the names of the party's candidates printed on the primary ballot. On May 5, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene (requests were made to Justices Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan, both of whom refused to order an injunction). As a result, the party's candidates did not appear on the May 6, 2014 primary ballot. The Libertarian Party sought a rehearing from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in an effort to restore the party's candidates to the general election ballot, but on June 4, 2014 the court declined to reconsider the case.
Libertarian gubernatorial qualification
A legal challenge was brought in March 2014 seeking to disqualify Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl from the primary ballot. The case was brought on behalf of Tyler King, a Libertarian Ohio voter who alleged that Democrats circulated Earl's petitions and provided additional monetary and legal assistance to Earl's gubernatorial campaign. Ohio law requires that petitions be signed and circulated by members of the same political party as the candidate.
Earl's attorney, Mark Brown, maintained that the case was a continuation of Republican efforts to exclude third parties from the ballot, accusing King and his attorney of "bluster and innuendo."
Republicans and Democrats fail to field candidates for state House primary
Both the Republican and Democratic parties failed to field candidates for the primary for the 88th House District by the February 5, 2014 filing deadline. Incumbent Rex Damschroder (R) was forced to withdraw after finding that his filing paperwork had been deemed invalid. State law prevented him from running as a write-in candidate in the primary, but Damschroder reported on February 20, 2014 that his wife, Rhonda, would be running as a placeholder write-in candidate for him. "She has offered to let me user her name as a write-in, acting as a placeholder. It's the only legal remedy we can find ... I'm apologizing and humbly asking for voters' support again. I screwed up, and I take credit for that," said Damschroder. Had she won the nomination, she was expected to withdraw from the race and be replaced by her husband.
Local businessman William F. Reineke, Jr. indicated that he would run as a write-in candidate in the Republican primary. No candidates filed for the Democratic primary, though William E. Young, a local retired teacher and 2012 candidate, was expected to run as a write-in. Reineke won the Republican primary and went on to win the general election in November.
On January 7, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Watson issued a preliminary injunction against S.B. 193, ruling in favor of the plaintiffs (including, among others, the Libertarian Party of Ohio) and their assertion that due process bars the state from implementing the law in the 2014 election. The plaintiffs further asserted that the law was unconstitutional and sought to prevent its enforcement in subsequent elections. Watson, however, did not address these issues in his ruling.
Three days later, on January 10, the government appealed this decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, requesting that the court expedite the process. The minor parties asked that the court refuse to expedite the appeal. The minor parties argued that because the state requested an expedited appeal over a stay of the injunction, the parties did not know how best to proceed with their petitions (the filing deadline for which fell on February 5). Had the court reversed the District Court's earlier ruling, all minor party primaries would have been canceled and any petition work rendered moot.
On January 15, 2014, the Sixth Circuit denied the state's request to expedite the appeal. On February 11, 2014, the state dropped its appeal altogether, meaning the 2014 election cycle would be unaffected by the passage of the new law. The law's impact on post-2014 election cycles, however, was still expected to be the subject of future legal challenges.
On November 8, 2013, two days after Governor Kasich signed S.B. 193 into law, the Libertarian Party of Ohio filed suit against the state, arguing that the newly minted regulations unconstitutionally restricted the party's participation in the 2014 elections. In dispute were provisions within the legislation that prohibited minor parties from participating in the 2014 primary election, removed previously granted state recognition, and retroactively imposed new petition signature requirements on candidates who had already completed their nominating petitions under the then-current statutory requirements. Further, the Libertarian Party argued that, because Ohio voter registration forms do not compel individuals to designate party affiliation, the only method by which parties can determine membership is through primary voter lists.
The Libertarian Party sought a preliminary injunction to retain its May 2014 primary. Instead of filing a new suit against the state, the Libertarians expanded an existing suit that challenged a residency requirement for petition circulators imposed by S.B. 47 (see below for more information).
Opponents of the new legislation contended that S.B. 193 was written to block Libertarian Charlie Earl's gubernatorial candidacy, thereby shoring up Kasich's own re-election bid. Libertarian State Party Chairman Kevin Knedley argued that by blocking primary access to minor parties, the state was hindering their long-term prospects. Democratic State Representative Connie Pillich (D-Cincinnati) called the bill "an attack on democracy."
Meanwhile, supporters maintained that the changes were necessary after a court ruled in 2006 that the state's existing ballot access standards were prohibitive. State Representative Jim Buchy (R-Greenville) said the changes would make it "very easy" for minor parties to gain and maintain ballot access.
Signed into law on March 22, 2013 and effective June 21, 2013, S.B. 47 made revisions to the statutes that regulate petition circulation processes. Notably, the legislation as enacted mandated that "except for a nominating petition for presidential electors, no person shall be entitled to circulate any petition unless the person is a resident of the state and is at least 18 years of age." The Libertarian Party of Ohio filed suit against the legislation in federal court on September 25, 2013. On November 13, 2013, federal judge Michael Watson granted a preliminary injunction against the law, writing in his ruling, "It is well established that even a temporary violation of First Amendment rights constitutes irreparable harm."
Process to become a candidate
Filing fees apply to all candidates and are as follows:
|Governor, U.S. Senate, statewide offices||$150|
|U.S. House, state legislature||$85|
For partisan candidates
A partisan candidate must file a Declaration of Candidacy and petition and pay the requisite filing fees. Petition signature requirements are detailed in the table below (for more information regarding petition requirements, see below).
|Office||Number of signatures required|
|Governor, U.S. Senate and other statewide offices||1,000 qualified electors who are members of the same political party as the candidate|
|U.S. House and state legislature||50 qualified electors who are members of the same political party as the candidate|
|**The signature requirement for minor party candidates is one-half the number required of major parties.|
For independent candidates
An unaffiliated candidate must submit a Declaration of Candidacy and nominating petition and pay the requisite filing fees. Petition signature requirements are detailed in the table below (for more information regarding petition requirements, see below).
|Office||Number of signatures required|
|Governor, U.S. Senate and other statewide offices||5,000 qualified electors|
|U.S. House and state legislature||Varies by size of district; if 5,000 or more electors voted for the office of governor in the most recent election, 1 percent of electors; if less than 5,000 electors voted for said office, 5 percent of the vote or 25, whichever is less|
For write-in candidates
A write-in candidate must file a Declaration of Intent to have his or her votes counted. Write-in candidates may participate in either primary or general elections and are subject to the same filing fees as all other candidates.
In some cases, political parties and/or candidates may need to obtain signatures via the petition process to gain access to the ballot. This section outlines the laws and regulations pertaining to petitions and circulators in Ohio.
Petition requirements for both candidates and new political parties are listed below (for petition forms and detailed instructions, consult the Office of the Ohio Secretary of State).
- The Statement of Candidacy portion of each petition paper must be completely filled in and signed by the candidate before circulation can begin.
- All petitions must include a statement signed by the circulator indicating:
- Only qualified electors who are eligible to vote for the candidacy in question may sign a petition.
- Each signature must be written in ink by the elector (or duly appointed attorney-in-fact); signers must include residence address, which must match the address that appears on registration records, and date of signing.
- With the exception of petitions for candidates elected by voters of the entire state, no petition can contain more than three times the required number of signatures.
- Circulators must be at least 18 years old (as of November 2013, a statute mandating that circulators be residents of Ohio was not in effect, due to a preliminary injunction).
- Circulators may not sign the same petition papers they are circulating, but may sign petition papers for the same candidacy by a different circulator.
- Each petition paper must be circulated by one person only and can contain signatures of electors in only one county.
- Petitions for a candidate for party nomination must be signed and circulated by members of the same political party as the candidate.
See statutes: Title 35, Chapter 3517 of the Ohio Revised Statutes
- name and address of the candidate
- name of the campaign committee
- office sought
- name of the campaign's treasurer and any deputy treasurers (the candidate may serve as his or her own treasurer)
A bank account for the campaign must be established separate from any personal or business accounts the candidate may have. All contributions must be deposited into this account.
In addition, candidates for statewide office (excluding the state legislature) must submit monthly reports on campaign contributions received during the months of July, August and September.
Campaign contribution limits vary according to the type of donor and type of recipient. Contribution limits apply separately to each election (e.g., primary and general elections). The table below summarizes campaign contributions effective February 25, 2013 through February 24, 2015. The uppermost row indicates donor type and the leftmost column indicates recipient type.
|Ohio campaign contribution limits|
|Individual||PACs and PCEs||County party (state candidate fund)||County party (other account)||State party (state candidate fund)||Legislative campaign fund||Campaign committee|
|State Senate||$12,155.52||$12,155.52||$12,155.52* or $136,749.58**||$3,038.88||$136,749.58||$68,070.90 and $136,749.58***||$12,155.52|
|State House||$12,155.52||$12,155.52||$12,155.52* or $68,070.90**||$3,038.88||$68,070.90||$35,258.98 and $68,070.90***||$12,155.52|
|State party||$36,466.56||$36,466.56||No Limit||Prohibited||No Limit||No Limit||$36,466.56|
|Legislative campaign fund||$18,233.28||$18,233.28||No Limit||Prohibited||No Limit||Prohibited||$18,233.28|
|County party||$12,155.52||Prohibited||Prohibited||Prohibited||No Limit||No Limit||$12,155.52|
|PACs and PCEs||$12,155.52||$12,155.52||$12,155.52||$12,155.52||$12,155.52||Prohibited||$12,155.52|
|*"These limits apply to contributions given to a campaign committee which is not a 'designated state campaign committee.'"|
**"These limits apply to cash or cash equivalents, not in-kind. The campaign committee of a House or a Senate candidate which is a 'designated state campaign committee' may accept, in aggregate, from any one or a combination of state candidate funds of county political parties $60,777.59 and $121,597.85, respectively, in an election period."
***"These limits apply to cash or cash equivalents, not in-kind. The smaller limit is for the Primary election period and the larger limit is for the General election period."
- See also: State election agencies
Candidates running for office may require some form of interaction with the following agencies:
Ohio Secretary of State - Elections Division
- Why: This agency provides and processes petition paperwork for statewide executive offices and judicial offices.
- 180 East Broad Street
- Columbus, OH 43215
- Phone: 614.466.2585
- Toll-free: 1.877.SOS.OHIO or 1.877.767.6446
- Website: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/elections.aspx
- 180 East Broad Street
Ohio Ethics Commission
- Why: This agency provides and processes personal financial disclosure statements for most offices.
- 30 West Spring Street
- Columbus, Ohio 43215-2256
- Phone: (614) 466-7090
- Fax: (614) 466-8368
- Website: http://www.ethics.ohio.gov/
- 30 West Spring Street
Ohio Elections Commission
- Why: This agency processes election-related complaints.
- 21 West Broad Street, Suite 600
- Columbus, Ohio 43215
- Phone: 614-466-3205
- Fax: 614-728-9408
- Website: http://elc.ohio.gov/
- 21 West Broad Street, Suite 600
The state executive term limits in Ohio are as follows:
- The governor must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after two consecutive terms.
- The lieutenant governor may serve a total of two terms.
- The secretary of state may serve a total of two terms.
- The attorney general may serve a total of two terms.
- The treasurer may serve a total of two terms.
- The auditor may serve a total of two terms.
There were no state executive officials who were term-limited in 2014.
- See also: State legislatures with term limits
There were 22 state legislators who were termed out in 2014.
- State Senate: 18
- State House: 4
A total of seven state legislators were termed out in 2012.
A total of 20 state legislators were termed out in 2010.
Here is the current partisan breakdown of the congressional members from Ohio:
|Congressional Partisan Breakdown from|
|Party||U.S. Senate||U.S. House||Total|
|TOTALS as of March 2015||2||16||18|
State legislative partisanship
Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of Ohio:
|Party||As of March 2015|
|Party||As of March 2015|
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Ohio + ballot + access"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Ohio elections, 2014
- Campaign finance requirements for Ohio ballot measures
- Ohio signature requirements
- State election agencies
- Counties in Ohio
- State executives with term limits
- States with gubernatorial term limits
- Ohio state executive official elections, 2014
- State legislatures with term limits
- List of United States Representatives from Ohio
- List of United States Senators from Ohio
- Official Website of the Ohio Secretary of State Office
- Official Website of the Ohio Ethics Commission
- Official Website of the Ohio Elections Commission
- Official Website of the Federal Election Commission
- FEC 2014 Primary Election Dates and Candidate Filing Deadlines
- Ohio Election Code
- 2014 Candidate Requirement Guide
- Campaign Finance Handbook
- 2014 Election Calendar
- Ballot Access News -- News updates and analysis of ballot access issues
- ThirdPartyPolitics.us -- a blog about American third party and independent politics
- RangeVoting.org -- a listing of notably restrictive ballot access requirements
- Center for Competitive Politics, "Election Law Handbook," Winter 2013
- National Voter Outreach -- a political consulting firm that specializes in organizing petition signature drives
- Ohio Secretary of State, "2014 Election Calendar," accessed November 15, 2013
- Ohio Secretary of State, "2014 Ohio Candidate Requirement Guide," accessed December 4, 2013
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3505, Section 3," accessed December 4, 2013
- E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
- As of December 12, 2013, the digitally available edition of the Code had not been updated to reflect the changes resulting from the enactment of SB 193.
- Ohio General Assembly, "SB 193," accessed December 12, 2013
- Cleveland Plain-Dealer, "Ohio legislature passes new ballot-access rules for minor political parties; Libertarians promise lawsuit," November 6, 2013
- Ohio Secretary of State, "Governor and Lieutenant Governor: November 2, 2010," accessed December 30, 2013
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3517, Section 01," accessed December 12, 2013
- Ballot Access News, "U.S. District Court Rules that Ohio's Minor Parties May Remain on the Ballot for 2014," January 7, 2014
- United States District Court - Southern District of Ohio - Eastern Division, "Case No. 2:13-cv-953 -- Opinion and Order and Preliminary Injunction," January 7, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Secretary of State Removes Libertarian Party Statewide Candidates from the Libertarian Primary Ballot," March 7, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Libertarian Party Files Strong New Legal Argument in Existing Federal Ballot Access Concerning Primary Ballot Access for Its Statewide Nominees," March 8, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "U.S. District Court Sets Hearing in Ohio Libertarian Primary Ballot Access Lawsuit," March 10, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Libertarian Candidates Lose Primary Ballot Access Lawsuit," March 20, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Sixth Circuit Expedites Libertarian Primary Ballot Access Case," March 21, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "New Filings in Ohio Libertarian Party Primary Ballot Access Case," March 21, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Libertarian Party Ballot Access Case to be Argued in Sixth Circuit on Tuesday, April 22," April 17, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Libertarian Party Loses Primary Ballot Access Lawsuit," May 1, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Libertarian Party Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Put its Statewide Candidates on Primary Ballot," May 1, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Give Injunctive Relief to Ohio Libertarian Party," May 5, 2014
- Dayton Daily News, "Libertarian candidates for Governor, AG blocked from Tuesday ballot," May 5, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Sixth Circuit Won't Rehear Ohio Libertarian Party Ballot Access Case," June 4, 2014
- Cincinnati.com, "Libertarian governor candidate challenged in Ohio," March 4, 2014
- The Blade, "Tiffin man will face as write-in for state House," February 18, 2014
- The Blade, "Rex Damschroder's wife to run for his seat, then he might replace her," February 20, 2014
- The Blade, "Judge: Ohio cannot change minor party rules for 2014 ballot," January 7, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Update on Ohio Minor Party Ballot Access Lawsuit," January 11, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Sixth Circuit Won't Expedite Ohio's Appeal of Last Week's Ballot Access Decision," January 15, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Drops Appeal of U.S. District Court Order that Put Minor Parties on 2014 Ballot," February 11, 2014
- Cleveland Plain-Dealer, "Libertarians file legal challenge against Ohio's new rules for minor political parties; Greens may follow suit," November 8, 2013
- The Columbus Dispatch, "Libertarians challenge new Ohio minor-party law," November 8, 2013
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Libertarian Party Sues to Retain its Qualified Party Status for 2014," November 8, 2013
- Ballot Access News, "Ohio Libertarian Party Files Lawsuit Against New Residency Requirement for Petitioners," September 26, 2013
- Ohio General Assembly, "SB 47," accessed December 13, 2013
- Columbus Dispatch, "Federal judge suspends Ohio law concerning who can collection petition signatures," November 14, 2013
- Libertarian Party of Ohio, "Court Blocks Anti-petitioning Law Challenged by LPO," November 17, 2013
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3513, Section 10," accessed December 9, 2013
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3513, Section 05," accessed December 9, 2013
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3513, Section 257," accessed December 9, 2013
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3513, Section 041," accessed December 9, 2013
- Ohio Secretary of State, "2014 Ohio Candidate Guide," accessed January 3, 2014
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3501, Section 38," accessed January 4, 2014
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3517, Section 10," accessed December 13, 2013
- Ohio Secretary of State, "Ohio Campaign Finance Handbook," updated September 2012
- Ohio Secretary of State, "2014 Ohio Campaign Finance Reporting Calendar," accessed December 13, 2013
- State of Ohio, "Ohio Campaign Contribution Limits," January 22, 2013
- Ohio Revised Code, "Title 35, Chapter 3517, Section 102," accessed December 13, 2013