COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio senators have cleared a bill that would set new requirements for third parties to appear on ballots in the swing state.
Representatives of the Green and Libertarian parties oppose the measure, which passed on a 22-11 vote Tuesday. It now goes to the House.
The American Civil Liberties Union told lawmakers that the proposals' petition requirements are onerous for third parties. Plus, the legal organization says the changes come too close to Ohio's 2014 statewide elections.
Sponsoring Sen. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, said the bill establishes new rules for minor parties following a court's rejection of Ohio's previous law.
The proposal comes as Ohio Republicans face growing competition from tea party supporters who say they may support a third-party challenger to Gov. John Kasich next year.
State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) issued the following statement today after the Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 193, legislation that alters the process by which the state recognizes minor political parties.
A 2006 court ruling, Libertarian Party of Ohio v. Blackwell, declared Ohio's statutory system unconstitutional because it was too difficult for new political parties to form.
"Today's approval of SB 193 is another attempt by GOP legislators to restrict the elections process and prevent free and fair access to the ballot for voters and candidates alike. Instead of promoting participation in our government, this bill will change the rules of the game in the middle of an election cycle-unfairly kicking minor party candidates off the ballot."
"Ohio is a diverse state of 11.5 million people who deserve to have their views heard and respected. Yes, the General Assembly needs to act, but we should do so in a way that is inclusive of all voices, that maintains the current rules for the current election cycle, and that preserves Ohioans' choice on Election Day."