Ohio Legislature Approves Measures to Ensure Biden’s Ballot Presence and Ban Foreign Contributions

The Ohio Senate has cleared a temporary fix allowing President Joe Biden to appear on the state’s November ballot, concluding a rare special session called by Republican Governor Mike DeWine. The measure, along with a ban on foreign nationals contributing to state ballot campaigns, now heads to DeWine’s desk for his expected signature.

The Senate’s approval of the ballot fix comes just one day after the House passed the measure, coupled with the foreign contribution ban demanded by the upper chamber. The latter bill also expands the definition of “foreign nationals” to include lawful permanent residents of the U.S., or green card holders, which proponents argue closes a significant loophole. However, some lawmakers questioned the constitutionality of this provision and its potential to lead to the courts striking down the entire measure.

Governor DeWine called the special session 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. In response to the Senate tying the ballot fix to the foreign contribution ban, the Democratic National Committee and the Biden campaign announced a virtual roll call vote to nominate the president, effectively neutralizing the need for a vote in Ohio.

Democrats in the Ohio House accused the Republican supermajorities of exploiting the Biden ballot issue to pass an unrelated bill that undermines direct democracy in the state.

They pointed 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.

The foreign nationals legislation, if signed into law, could impact several ballot issue campaigns making their way toward Ohio’s Nov. 5 ballot.