The Green Party is fighting for its political life in Ohio. The gerrymandered, Republican-controlled state legislature outlawed all minor parties in Ohio in 2013 while both the Libertarian and Green Parties were in the middle of the petition drives for their gubernatorial candidates. Neither the Libertarians nor the Greens achieved ballot status by submitting signatures. While the Libertarian Party sued to maintain ballot status and lost in federal court, the Green Party invoked a seldom used state law that allows a statewide candidate to gain ballot status by getting 500 write-in votes.
The initial canvas of precincts showed the Green Party with 766 write-in votes for their gubernatorial candidate. The number, according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, has now dwindled to 628 votes. By state law, all county boards of elections must certify their vote total and forward it to the Secretary of State’s office by May 27. The Secretary of State must post the actual results 30 days after the May 6 election.
Anita Rios, the gubernatorial candidate, is currently showing 4% in SurveyUSA’s statewide poll. In order for the Green Party to survive under the current Republican law, still being challenged in federal court, their gubernatorial candidate must get 2% in the November election.
The Green Party of Ohio has played a key role in Ohio election protection activities. In 2004, they sued to recount the controversial Bush victory in the Buckeye state. In 2008, the Green Party ran an extensive election protection effort and their 2006 gubernatorial candidate Bob Fitrakis (this writer) was involved in deposing the Bush family’s election IT specialist, Michael Connell. In 2012, this writer, then a Green Party congressional candidate, sued the Ohio Secretary of State in both state and federal court to halt secret, untested, experimental software patches from being placed on 20 county central tabulators.
Whether Rios and the Green Party appear on the ballot with the legal standing to sue and the right to certify election observers throughout the state on the upcoming election day depends on the 128 vote surplus that may be certified on May 27.
Green Party voters found it difficult in many counties, particularly Franklin County, to cast a write-in vote on the electronic voting machines. When voters pulled a Green Party ballot the voting machine would give them the option for a write-in without it mentioning what race it was for and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive preventing pollworkers from handing voters a list of official statewide write-in candidates unless the voter specifically requested it.
In Franklin County, 454 people voted Green and only 130 write-in votes were counted the day after the election. That number has since fallen to 122 write-in votes. In Cuyahoga County, that initially reported 141 write-in votes, the number declined to 79. With 100% of the counties reporting and the unofficial county canvas being reported by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, it is hard to imagine that the Ohio Green Party would lose another 128 votes.