Election 2024

Democrats plan to nominate Biden by virtual roll call to meet Ohio ballot deadline

Biden boarding plane
President Joe Biden during his arrival on Air Force One at Delaware Air National Guard Base in New Castle, Del., on April 12.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP Photo

President Joe Biden will be formally nominated as the Democratic presidential nominee through a virtual roll call ahead of the party’s official convention in Chicago in August — a maneuver that will allow Biden to appear on the November ballot in Ohio and also reduce opportunities for disruptions from protesters.

The Democratic National Convention, where the president would otherwise be formally nominated, comes after Ohio’s ballot deadline of Aug. 7. The party’s convention is scheduled for Aug. 19-22.

Ohio lawmakers have moved the deadline in the past for candidates of both parties, although they had not done so yet for Biden this year and were called to a rare special session by Gov. Mike DeWine to address the issue.

The virtual proceedings will allow Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to get the party’s formal nod and will be very similar to the process used in 2020, when the convention went virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move also reduces the chances for an unscripted moment during the party’s highly produced Chicago convention that could embarrass Biden — who has faced discontent from some activist members of his party over his support for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza — on live television.

The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday did not say when the virtual roll call will take place, but it is expected in the weeks after the committee’s rules and bylaws committee votes to propose changes to the roll call process. That committee vote is scheduled for June 4.

“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio and all 50 states, and Ohio Republicans agree. But when the time has come for action, they have failed to act every time, so Democrats will land this plane on our own,” Jaime Harrison, the Democratic National Committee chairman, said in a statement. “Through a virtual roll call, we will ensure that Republicans can’t chip away at our democracy through incompetence or partisan tricks and that Ohioans can exercise their right to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice.”

Ohio lawmakers, meanwhile, were gathering Tuesday for the special session.

Negotiations between the House and Senate on a solution to Biden’s ballot conundrum began Friday. State Rep. Bill Seitz told reporters during a conference call that he and state Sen. Rob McColley, both Republicans, are leading the talks, with no resolution announced as of Tuesday.

Since Ohio changed its certification deadline from 60 to 90 days ahead of its general election, state lawmakers have had to adjust the requirement twice, in 2012 and 2020, to accommodate candidates of both leading parties. Each change was only temporary.

And the ability of voters to speak directly through the ballot initiative process on questions such as abortion has made reaching a solution more difficult in both chambers, where the GOP has lopsided majorities.

The Senate sent its version of the ballot fix to the House after attaching a prohibition on foreign nationals donating to Ohio ballot campaigns, stopping it in its tracks.

DeWine urged legislators to pass the combination measure during the special session, but Democrats have balked, saying the proposal goes beyond the foreign nationals ban to add requirements intended to make it more difficult to mount future ballot campaigns in the state.

That’s after Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved three ballot measures last year, including a constitutional amendment protecting access to abortions that Republicans opposed and an initiated statute legalizing adult-use marijuana.

A “clean” House bill containing only the adjustment to Ohio’s ballot deadline may also be considered.

Due to differing interpretations of the proclamation DeWine issued Thursday, the Ohio Senate scheduled a single day of activity for Tuesday, while the Ohio House plans to begin with two days of committee hearings before taking its vote Thursday.

A Senate spokesman has said it’s possible the upper chamber can convene Tuesday and then recess to wait for the House.

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