Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang will not appear on the Ohio primary ballot in March after his campaign failed to submit the proper documents to the Secretary of State’s office as required by law. As a result, Yang announced that he will instead launch a write-in campaign in the Buckeye State.
While it appears Yang—who wears a “Math” pin on his lapel and has vowed to give everyone in America a cash payment of $1,000 per month—collected the number of signatures required in order to appear on the ballot, his canvassers neglected to fill out the top portion of the forms that identify the candidate.
Ohio law requires that petitions contain information clearly identifying the name of the candidate and his party, along with the candidate’s signature. Rather than circulating a single petition around the state, candidates use what’s called “part-petitions” so that multiple canvassers can travel around collecting signatures. A Candidate Requirement Guide published at the Ohio Secretary of State’s website explains: “Candidates may make additional copies of the form as it is provided by the county board of elections. Once the candidate has completed filling out and signing the petition, this signed part-petition may be copied prior to obtaining any elector signatures on the part-petitions.” The Ohio Revised Code makes clear that “The declaration of candidacy so signed shall be copied on each other separate petition paper before the signature of electors are placed on it.”
There’s nothing ambiguous about it, but Yang’s campaign team either didn’t read the rules or chose to ignore them. Rather than presenting the identifying information—the declaration of candidacy—to voters when collecting signatures, it appears his circulators simply asked electors to sign on the dotted line without indicating on the form who the candidate was. When the petitions were submitted to the Secretary of State’s office, many of the part-petitions were missing the required candidate information.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose explained in a statement that part-petitions require three parts. On “the vast majority” of Yang’s petitions, he said, “the first part that tells signees who the petition is for, was missing.” (You can view the full petition form below.)
Instead of taking responsibility for his campaign’s incompetence, Yang blamed the bureaucracy and Ohio lawmakers.
“My campaign submitted nearly three times the amount of signatures needed, virtually ensuring I would be on the ballot in Ohio,” Yang said in a statement Friday. “Nevertheless, because of a bureaucratic paperwork issue caused by an awkwardly-worded law, nearly 3,000 Ohioans’ First Amendment rights have been denied. As a non-politician, it’s unfathomable that this could happen, but we’re not going to let democracy be thwarted and we are thrilled that we’ve made every other ballot with ease.”
It should be noted that another famous “non-politician,” one Donald Trump, managed to figure all this out and get his name on the Ohio primary ballot in 2016—or at least he hired a competent team to go over the rules with a fine-tooth comb to ensure they didn’t run afoul of the law.
LaRose, a Republican, said in a statement, “As Secretary of State, I’m duty-bound to follow the law, and the law is clear — when Ohioans sign a petition they deserve to know what they’re signing. This is why petition forms must be submitted complete with a statement from the candidate stating their intention to run. By their own admission, the Yang campaign failed to do that.”
Ohio law “is clear about the requirements for petitions in Ohio, and for good reason,” LaRose added. “When a campaign is gathering signatures, Ohio law requires them to do so on part-petitions — a document that includes three components: who the part-petition is for, the signatures, and a circulator statement from the person who gathered the signatures.” The signature is important, he said, because it “ensures signers aren’t signing a petition under false pretenses.”
Yang’s supporters—dubbed the Yang Gang—are livid, taking to Twitter to rail about Ohio’s laws and the unfairness of it all. In typical Democrat fashion, rather than owning up to their mistakes, they’re blaming others and screeching about how this injustice (also known as following the rule of law) is a threat to democracy itself.
Quentin Platt, who says he collected signatures for Yang in Ohio, complained on Twitter about “Hours spent out in the cold. Hours spent driving to and from signature gathering events. I will never get back my time or my money. Neither will the dozens of others who went out of their way to sign or collect signatures.”
“THIS is your democracy in action,” Platt continued. “When a group of intelligent, passionate, well-intentioned individuals go light years out of their ways to do things by the book, we get shot down by a silly clause or punctuation mark likely written decades ago by an unpaid intern.”
A requirement to include the candidate’s name on a petition is hardly a “silly clause or punctuation mark.” The requirement is there for a reason: to ensure people know what they’re signing. Undeterred, Platt continued, with his Twitter thread taking a darker turn: “I struggle to fathom how this bureaucracy could be dampened by anything short of a revolution.”
“Just watch. Andrew Yang will be the first write-in candidate to win a Presidential Primary in Ohio,” he declared.
Good luck with that.
Navigating primary ballots in dozens of states is not an easy task—the best-run campaigns hire teams in each state and consult state party leaders to help them weave their way through the labyrinthine laws and requirements. Failure to make it onto the ballot in one or more states is a good indication that a campaign is not ready for prime time, not ready to run a nationwide election, and not ready to head up the nation’s Executive Branch.
In 2012, Mitt Romney hit the ground running, qualifying in every state without any major snafus. Other Republican candidates were not so lucky. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, who nearly won the Iowa caucuses that year, failed to get on the ballot in Virginia and the District of Columbia. He also filed incomplete slates of delegates in Ohio and Illinois, making it virtually impossible for him to win in those battleground states.
Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor, failed to get on the ballot in Arizona or Illinois because his form had a photocopied signature and wasn’t notarized. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich made a rookie mistake that year, failing to get on the ballot in Missouri and Virginia.
Yang, whose campaign did not respond to a request for comment, vowed to continue competing in Ohio by launching a write-in campaign—an extreme longshot for the already-longshot candidate.
“Despite this setback, Ohioans will have an opportunity to cast their ballot for me in the Democratic presidential primary as I’m officially announcing a write-in campaign in Ohio, aided by our incredible grassroots support, 400,000 donors across the country, and the fact that I have such an easily-spelled last name,” he declared.
Well, there is that.
“I sincerely sympathize with those who hoped to support [Yang’s] candidacy in the Ohio presidential primary — it’s truly unfortunate that the Yang campaign has let them down,” LaRose said. “Virtually every presidential, congressional, and state legislative candidate in Ohio has successfully completed the process over the many decades since it became law.”
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