As the Free Press goes to print, the Ohio Green Party appears to have achieved a historical victory by writing its gubernatorial candidate onto the ballot in the May 6 primary. With the May 27 county boards of elections certified results, the Green Party has at least 641 write-in votes, far exceeding the required 500 votes needed to maintain ballot status in the state.
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. A federal court ruling, after lawsuits by the Libertarian Party and the American Civil Liberties Union returned the minor parties to the ballot.
Nevertheless, neither the Libertarians nor the Greens achieved ballot status by submitting signatures. While the Libertarian Party sued again to maintain ballot status for its gubernatorial candidate, it lost in federal court. The Green Party invoked a seldom used state law that allows a statewide candidate to gain ballot status by gathering 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 dwindled to 628 votes before the county certification boosted the number to at least 641. The Secretary of State’s office spokesperson told the Free Press that they would certify the official vote results during the first week in June.
Anita Rios, the gubernatorial candidate, is currently showing 4 percent in Survey USA’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 percent 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.
If the Green Party maintains their 141 vote surplus, Rios and the Green Party will have legal standing to sue and the right to certify election observers throughout the state during the upcoming November election.
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 poll workers 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 136 write-in votes were certified. In Cuyahoga County, that initially reported 141 write-in votes, the number certified was 85. With 100 percent 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 141 votes.
Bob Fitrakis ran as the Green Party-endorsed Governor candidate in 2006, as a Green Party candidate for U.S. Congress in 2012 and is currently the Lt. Governor candidate.