Libertarians submit placeholder for Ohio presidential ballot


By Ann Sanner - Associated Press



FILE – In this May 27, 2016, file photo, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters and delegates at the National Libertarian Party Convention in Orlando, Fla. Libertarian Party activists in Ohio, hoping to get party nominee Gary Johnson on Ohio's ballot, said they submitted petition signatures Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, for Charlie Earl, a 2014 candidate for governor, as a placeholder because they began collecting signatures before Johnson's nomination. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)


FILE – In this March 8, 2014, file photo, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl gives a keynote speech during the 2014 Libertarian Party of Ohio Convention at the DoubleTree Hotel in Worthington, Ohio. Libertarian Party activists in Ohio, hoping to get party nominee Gary Johnson on Ohio's ballot, said they submitted petition signatures Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, for Charlie Earl, a 2014 candidate for governor, as a placeholder because they began collecting signatures before Johnson's nomination. (Sam Greene/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT


Libertarian Party activists in Ohio carry boxes of signature petitions to the Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday in Columbus in hopes of placing presidential candidate Gary Johnson on the November ballot. The party surprised state election officials by submitting signatures for a different candidate, Charlie Earl, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014, in a move Libertarians defended as a placeholder effort because they began collecting signatures before Johnson was nominated. Once certified by the state’s elections chief, Libertarians will swap in Johnson and his running mate.


AP Photo | Ann Sanner

COLUMBUS (AP) — Libertarians trying to get a presidential candidate on Ohio’s ballot submitted signatures on Tuesday for someone other than their party’s nominee, Gary Johnson.

The party listed Charlie Earl — a failed 2014 candidate for Ohio governor— on paperwork they say is aimed at getting Johnson on the November ballot.

Earl is just a placeholder, said Aaron Keith Harris, a spokesman for the Libertarian Party of Ohio. Once certified by the state’s elections chief, Libertarians will swap in Johnson and his running mate, he said.

“We wish there was an easier way for us to do it,” Harris said in an interview.

The secretary of state’s office said it will review the situation.

Libertarians are not recognized as a minor political party in Ohio, so activists sought to collect at least 5,000 valid signatures from voters to get their party’s candidate on the fall ballot as an independent.

Party members on Tuesday submitted more than 12,000 signatures to the state’s elections chief in boxes bearing Johnson’s name. They estimate about 7,000 are valid.

Libertarians made no mention of Earl as the candidate listed in the documents until after handing them in.

The Libertarian Party nominated Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, at the party’s convention in late May. But Harris said Ohio Libertarians needed to start collecting signatures before then to ensure the party would have a presidential candidate on ballots in the key swing state.

Given the various petition deadlines and ballot access rules across states, such stand-in candidates are common, said Carla Howell, the national Libertarian Party’s political director. She said she’s a placeholder in four states.

Even if Johnson and running mate William Weld make the ballot, they’ll appear without the party’s label.

“What we’re doing today is giving Ohioans another choice,” Bob Bridges, the chair of the state’s Libertarian Party, told reporters outside Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office.

Ohio’s Republican-led state legislature passed tougher rules for minor political parties in 2013, as the GOP faced growing competition from the tea party.

Libertarians have fought the changes in state and federal court for years. They maintain the law effectively eliminated all minor-party candidates from 2014 primary ballots and unfairly disadvantaged third parties going forward.

Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and running mate Ajamu Baraka are set appear on Ohio’s ballot with their party’s affiliation.

FILE – In this May 27, 2016, file photo, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters and delegates at the National Libertarian Party Convention in Orlando, Fla. Libertarian Party activists in Ohio, hoping to get party nominee Gary Johnson on Ohio's ballot, said they submitted petition signatures Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, for Charlie Earl, a 2014 candidate for governor, as a placeholder because they began collecting signatures before Johnson's nomination. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
http://limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_111823603-fbaf77d041c847bd838c5723320b9302.jpgFILE – In this May 27, 2016, file photo, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters and delegates at the National Libertarian Party Convention in Orlando, Fla. Libertarian Party activists in Ohio, hoping to get party nominee Gary Johnson on Ohio's ballot, said they submitted petition signatures Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, for Charlie Earl, a 2014 candidate for governor, as a placeholder because they began collecting signatures before Johnson's nomination. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
FILE – In this March 8, 2014, file photo, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl gives a keynote speech during the 2014 Libertarian Party of Ohio Convention at the DoubleTree Hotel in Worthington, Ohio. Libertarian Party activists in Ohio, hoping to get party nominee Gary Johnson on Ohio's ballot, said they submitted petition signatures Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, for Charlie Earl, a 2014 candidate for governor, as a placeholder because they began collecting signatures before Johnson's nomination. (Sam Greene/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT
http://limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_111823603-445ac0f726f245689ae34e9920cb210d.jpgFILE – In this March 8, 2014, file photo, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Charlie Earl gives a keynote speech during the 2014 Libertarian Party of Ohio Convention at the DoubleTree Hotel in Worthington, Ohio. Libertarian Party activists in Ohio, hoping to get party nominee Gary Johnson on Ohio's ballot, said they submitted petition signatures Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, for Charlie Earl, a 2014 candidate for governor, as a placeholder because they began collecting signatures before Johnson's nomination. (Sam Greene/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File) MANDATORY CREDIT
Libertarian Party activists in Ohio carry boxes of signature petitions to the Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday in Columbus in hopes of placing presidential candidate Gary Johnson on the November ballot. The party surprised state election officials by submitting signatures for a different candidate, Charlie Earl, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014, in a move Libertarians defended as a placeholder effort because they began collecting signatures before Johnson was nominated. Once certified by the state’s elections chief, Libertarians will swap in Johnson and his running mate.
http://limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/web1_111823603-c7d44b9777914ea99c84824c071ba8dc.jpgLibertarian Party activists in Ohio carry boxes of signature petitions to the Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday in Columbus in hopes of placing presidential candidate Gary Johnson on the November ballot. The party surprised state election officials by submitting signatures for a different candidate, Charlie Earl, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2014, in a move Libertarians defended as a placeholder effort because they began collecting signatures before Johnson was nominated. Once certified by the state’s elections chief, Libertarians will swap in Johnson and his running mate. AP Photo | Ann Sanner

By Ann Sanner

Associated Press

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