This topic is monitored by Moritz Law Professor Edward B. Foley
Nader Rejected by Ohio Federal Court
The attempt to get Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo on the ballot in Ohio has suffered another setback, this time at the federal level. Two days after asking the Ohio Supreme Court to put them back on the ballot the Nader/Camejo team petitioned a United States District Court judge in Columbus to do the same thing.
Nader’s contention is that it deprives Ohio voters of their constitutional freedoms of political speech and free association to require that nominating petition circulators be Ohio residents. Such requirements, the claim goes, are “for the sole convenience of the secretary of state and local boards.” Thousands of signatures that would have otherwise helped Nader get on the ballot in November were invalidated when it came to light that many of the circulators were not Ohio residents. A spokesperson for Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, whose ultimate decision it was to invalidate the signatures, said that it is “clear in statute and abided by every other candidate who has qualified in Ohio for the ballot.”
Judge Edmund Sargus upheld the secretary’s action – if not the constitutionality of the statutes – by claiming that there was widespread abuse in the signature gathering process by paid circulators. “Regardless of how the court would resolve the question of whether a state law requiring circulators to be state residents is constitutional, the fact remains that the signatures would be excluded on the grounds of several forms of fraud on the part of circulators,” the judge said.
This decision does not affect Nader’s case that is still pending in the Ohio Supreme Court and should be decided by early next week.