Ohio Senate Passes Measures To Secure Biden’s Ballot Spot And Restrict Foreign Campaign Contributions

In a rare special session, the Ohio Senate has approved a temporary fix ensuring President Joe Biden’s appearance on the state’s November ballot. The measure, along with a ban on foreign nationals contributing to state ballot campaigns, was passed by the House on Thursday and now awaits the signature of Republican Governor Mike DeWine, who is expected to sign both bills into law.

The special session was called by Governor DeWine last week to address the issue of Ohio’s Aug. 7 deadline for making the November ballot, which falls about two weeks before the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where Biden is set to be formally nominated. However, the Senate tied the ballot fix to the foreign contribution ban, prompting the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign to announce a virtual roll call vote to nominate the president, effectively circumventing the need for a vote in Ohio.

The foreign nationals bill also broadens the definition of “foreign nationals” to include lawful permanent residents of the U.S., or green card holders. While proponents argue that this provision closes a significant loophole, some lawmakers have raised concerns about its constitutionality and the potential for courts to strike down the entire measure.

Democrats in the Ohio House have accused the Republican supermajorities of using the Biden ballot issue as a pretext to pass an unrelated bill that undermines direct democracy in the state. They point to three separate ballot measures last year where voters sided against GOP leaders’ positions by wide margins, including protecting abortion access, rejecting a proposal to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments, and legalizing recreational marijuana.