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Libertarian Party Of Ohio Uses Unusual Strategy To Get Its Candidates On The Fall Ballot

Wednesday at 4pm is the deadline for submitting petition signatures for independent presidential candidates for the fall ballot in Ohio. The Libertarian Party of Ohio submitted their ticket's paperwork yesterday. But the party is using an unusual strategy to do that.

Tuesday afternoon, Ohio Libertarian Party Chairman Robert Bridges stood outside the Secretary of State’s office. With him were volunteers who had petition signatures in boxes that were plastered with Johnson for President stickers. Bridges said 7000 valid petition signatures, two thousand more than needed, would be submitted to get the names Gary Johnson and William Weld on the November statewide ballot.

“Our presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate has the most executive experience out of the other two candidates running.  Two two term Governors in the state of New Mexico and Massachusetts.”

Joshua Eck at the Secretary of State’s office says when employees opened the boxes to process the petitions, they were surprised by the name listed as the presidential candidate.

“We have received about six boxes of petitions, all for Charlie Earl to run for president as an independent in Ohio.”

Charlie Earl was the Libertarian Party of Ohio's candidate for governor in 2014. His name didn't appear on the ballot after a lawsuit and an investigation into problems with his petitions. Earl explains there’s a good reason why these presidential petitions were submitted with his name and not Johnson’s. It all boils down to a federal court suit that’s still under consideration over a new state law involving minor parties.

“If we jump the gun and put Gary and Bill on now as Independents, then if the court were to restore the Libertarian party to the ballot, they couldn’t run as Libertarians.”

Earl says Ohio’s so called “sore loser law”, which prevents candidates from appearing on the ballot as a candidate more than once in an election season, could be used as a way to prevent that if Johnson and Weld were already on the ballot as Independents.

“We thought it best to take the path of least resistance, cover all of the bases. Well in other words, in political terms, we call it CYA.”

So Earl says he and Ken Moellman from Kentucky will be stand in candidates for now. Earl says he’s hoping that ruling comes sooner rather than later.

“The sooner the court decides, the less angst we go through and the fewer mimosas and Bloody Marys that are consumed by Libertarians and politicians throughout Ohio.”

The whole situation is confusing for sure. Libertarian Party of Ohio spokesman Aaron Keith Harris admits that. But he says the people who signed those petitions knew the strategy that is being used.

“I know it is confusing. In fact, I had to explain to the guy who changed my tires in Dayton because I got him to sign. He said ‘Oh yea, that’s pretty complicated but I’m voting for Gary.’”

Harris says the petition with Earl’s name on it has been the one his group has been working with for months now. When asked why reporters who went to the Secretary of State’s office when the petitions were filed were told nothing about this strategy, Harris says there was no intent to mislead anyone.

“It hasn’t been a secret. Present company excepted, Jo, most reporters when you try to explain to them more than one thing at once, their eyes go crossed. So if they didn’t do their homework and look at the petition and haven’t been up on the process, then that’s on them.”

Harris points to Ohio’s law regarding replacing candidates before elections and says this can and has been done before. Eck at the Republican Secretary of State’s office says they will work on certifying these petitions but he says this is unusual.

“We are not aware of any time in Ohio history where a candidate has filed petitions to run for president then asked for someone else's name to be put on the ballot and should that be the case here, our office is going to need time to review the legality of that in state law.”

Many political pundits are saying this election has been the most unusual in modern day history. This filing just adds one more reason to the list. A new Quinnipiac Poll shows 8% of likely Ohio voters say they plan to vote for Gary Johnson.

Contact Jo Ingles at