BLOG: Ohio's dumb election laws

Tom Jackson
Jan 12, 2012


Ohio is a key "swing state" in every presidential election. Given our importance in national politics, why can't we clean up Ohio's dumb election laws? Here are two problems that need fixing immediately.

1). In almost every local election, a qualified candidate is kicked off the ballot because of a problem  in his nominating petition.

This time, it was Steve Schuster, a sitting members of the Perkins school board and a respected businessman who supports local charities. He left a section of the petition blank and says the person at the election board he gave it to said the petition was fine. Several years ago, when I covered Perkins Township, the name of a sitting trustee, Jerry Baumgardner, was removed from the candidate list. It forced him to wage a write-in campaign.

Other states don't play these games. Why not allow anyone to file who is legally qualified and pays the filling fee? Or at least allow candidates to fix the mistakes.

2). When a voter decides to change parties, he or she should have the option of going to the election board and making the change.

Ohio only allows changes in political affiliation during primary elections.

Yes, it's amusing that Erie County's Republican Party chairman, Alex Jones, is listed as an independent, as we reported recently as this newspaper.

But that's really a reflection on how hard it is to change parties in Ohio. Why not let him register as a Republican?



Regarding item #1 - if a candidate cannot properly comprehend what is written on a petition filing sheet, I'm not sure I'd want that person have oversight over important budget & public policy decisions. I've seen the filing petition to get on the ballot and its not that cumbersome of a document. I think you're more trying to placate a local businessman instead of really wanting a change in election laws.


 The problem comes when the B.O.E. employee says all is fine, only to discover after the filing deadline that he/she was wrong.  If they are inept at doing their jobs why should others suffer?

BW1's picture

Regarding party membership, that is entirely up to the party.  Voters at registration choose which primary ballot they wish to receive.  What IS wrong with election laws is the ridiculous requirement that if one requests a different party ballot than one received in the last primary, the state expects one to sign an affidavit of party affiliation.  As if one needs to be affiliated to vote for a party's candidates.  The requirement of swearing fealty to a private organization in order to vote for the candidate of one's choice is preposterous.

The parties claim it's to prevent adherants of another party from spoiling their primary with no intention to vote for the candidate in the general election.  So what?  One can't change one's mind between May and November?  If the parties want a process that excludes non-members, if they want to exclude people who don't meet their standard of ideological purity, then let them conduct it themselves, as they do in Iowa.  Print the ballots, rent space for the polling places, and count the votes on their own nickel, with no assistance or support from the state's boards of election.  If they want me as a taxpayer to pay for their nominating process, then it's my right to vote for whomever I please.


As long as everybody only votes ONCE, it wouldn't matter as much if you tried to mess up somebody else's primary since you couldn't have anything to do with your own if you did. Well, and also, as long as nobody dead votes. Or who is a cartoon character instead of a person...

First thing I'M voting for is a decent voter ID law! Frankly, that would do more to straighten out elections than petitions, affiliations, etc. and so on could!


 Here is what the current laws try to avoid;

I want Mr. McGoo to win an election. Mr. Gimemore will likey be the other major party nomination to run agaist Mr. McGoo. Mr. Gimemore also has to win his primary election against Mr. Screwball, who has a snowball's chance. Since I want Mr. McGoo to win I vote for Mr. Screwball in the primary.

Rush Limbaugh actually took credit for Mrs. Clinton loosing to POTUS Obama in the primary election by mounting operation something or other, to get republicans to vote for Obama in the primary. I don't think that he thought that Americans would vote for Obama. I wonder why that is? Anyone know?




My biggest complaint about the election laws are that a PHOTO I.D. is not required.  Showing a utility bill isn't confirming my identity.  If I have to provide an I.D. to cash a check or receive government assistance, how can anyone claim that having to provide a photo I.D. to vote is disenfranchising any voter?  How is that possibly a threat to anyone wanting to vote? 



  Their are advertisement comments being planted on our comment site and please help monitor for such this is our site not for advertising........good job


I like Tom's proposals but can't completely agree with his logic. I today's complex environment, do we really want to elect someone who would bungle a form by relying upon advice from a single functionary rather than verifying the facts, just because he's a really nice guy?

The entire system of primary elections is the root cause of many of our political problems today. It was favored by the two dominant parties to, at taxpayer expense, help them find the most electable candidates. So much the better than emergent third parties couldn't afford to participate effectively.

The result is a nasty polarized environment, with little chance of the moderating effect of the emergence of a centrist third party.




Why would a democrat want to change to republican? Did he all of a sudden become a bible thumping,  guns for god, gay hater red neck?

BW1's picture

eriemom : Here is what the current laws try to avoid;

We know full well what they try to avoid, and I addressed that.  The point is that it's not my duty as a taxpayer to fund a PRIVATE organization's avoidance of such things.  If the parties  want to determine who their faithful members support, they can poll them on their own dime.  When did  the Democratic and Republican parties become government agencies? 

When the Knights of Columbus, PETA, or the Dr. Who Fan Club want to know who their members would like them to endorse for governor, do they call the board of elections and ask for a special election in which only their members can vote?  No, so why should the Democrats or Republicans get that free service?  What next, should we ask to have the contestants on Dancing With the Stars on the statewide public ballot because some people don't have unlimited texting in their wireless packages?

Factitious: The entire system of primary elections is the root cause of many of our political problems today. It was favored by the two dominant parties to, at taxpayer expense, help them find the most electable candidates.

Precisely, but why should our tax dollars go to furthering their interests?