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Democrats Adopt Nomination Plan to Allow Biden on the Ohio Ballot

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Democratic Party leaders said Tuesday that they would nominate President Biden for a second term in office via a virtual roll call of delegates to the party’s national convention, bypassing a glitch in Ohio law that had threatened to keep Mr. Biden off the November ballot in the state.

Ohio law requires all candidates to be legally certified by Aug. 7, but Mr. Biden was not scheduled to be officially nominated until after the Democratic National Convention begins on Aug. 19. The virtual roll call will be completed before the Ohio deadline.

The party acted as the Ohio Legislature was meeting in special session for the first time in two decades in an effort to pass legislation that would have resolved the ballot problem at the state level. The legislators had easily dealt with identical issues involving presidential candidates in 2012 and 2016, but deep divisions among Republicans had stalled any action for weeks.

A frustrated Gov. Mike DeWine, also a Republican, had summoned the legislators to the special session last week, calling their inability to end the legislative gridlock “ridiculous” and “absurd.”

Only last week, the speaker of the Ohio House, Representative Jason Stephens was blunt about his inability to enact a quick fix for Mr. Biden’s ballot problem.

“There’s just not the will to do that from the legislature,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s a hyperpolitical environment at this time of year. And there are some Republicans who just didn’t want to vote on it.”

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Jaime Harrison, issued a statement on Tuesday denouncing the Republican lawmakers for their inaction. “Joe Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio and all 50 states, and Ohio Republicans agree,” he said. “But when the time has come for action, they have failed to act every time, so Democrats will land this plane on our own.”

The early roll call is not a new solution. Democrats also staged a remote vote on Mr. Biden’s nomination in 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That the Ohio special session was needed at all underscored both the dysfunction and the depth of partisan rancor in the ruling party, which holds supermajorities in both chambers of the Legislature.

Faced with similar mismatches in 2012 and 2020, the Ohio Legislature approved one-time exceptions to the Aug. 7 deadline to accommodate the political parties’ convention schedules. Alabama legislators faced an identical technical snag this year and unanimously enacted their own fix on May 3.

But Ohio Republicans left the State Capitol earlier this month without taking action on the ballot issue, even though the state’s Republican attorney general, Frank LaRose, warned of the problem on April 5.

Deep divisions among hard-line and moderate Republicans in the Ohio House, as well as a political rivalry between Republicans in the House and Senate, have roiled the Legislature for well over a year.

The Legislature approved only 16 bills in its 2023 session, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported in January, including measures establishing Nov. 19 as James A. Garfield Day, in honor of the Ohio-born 20th president, and setting July as Sarcoma Awareness Month. The total was the lowest since at least the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s, the newspaper said.