COLUMBUS (TDB) -- A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that eases a ballot-access barrier imposed by Ohio against third parties hoping to field presidential campaigns in the state. U.S. District Judge Gregory Frost said Ohio "imposes a significant burden on a core political speech right" that conflicts with the First Amendment. Socialist Party nominee Brian Moore, a Floridian who is trying to get on the ballot in all 50 states, challenged the state's petition requirements. Moore has to collect 5,000 names of Ohio voters, but a judge said his petitions can be circulated by non-residents. Lawyers representing Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, argued that state law prohibited non-resident petition circulators. The law is so stringent it requires petition circulator to live in Ohio, a specific county and precinct, and be rgistered to vote.
The lawsuit is Brian Moore, et al v. Jennifer Brunner, Case No. 2:08-cv-224, Southern District of Ohio. There have been similar challenges over the years, and critics have complained that Ohio's election laws are written to favor the two major political parties and preserve power for the Republicans and Democrats. Judge Frost rejected Brunner's lawyers arguments that an injunction could open the door to election fraud: "There is little to no evidence in the record supporting this contention . . ."
Frost said he that as he weighed the arguments, he found none supporting the state's law: "The fourth and final factor to consider is whether issuance of an injunction is in the public interest. It is axiomatic that adherence to constitutional protections is always in the public interest. Consequently, all . . . factors therefore weigh in favor of injunctive relief here."
So far, there's no word on other third parties, but the ruling would certainly looks to help the Greens, who will likely have Ralph Nader leading their ticket, and Libertarians, who have former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr heading theirs.