Four ways Democrats can fight GOP officials warning Biden might not make it on the ballot in November

Democrats aren’t happy with warnings that the dates for their nominating convention aren’t aligning with the calendars of two red states’ top election officials.

Republican secretaries of state in Ohio and Alabama warned Democrats that President Joe Biden may not appear on the ballot in November because the Democratic National Convention is scheduled for after both states’ deadlines. 

Now, Democrats are exploring four options to ensure Biden is certified for the ballots in November.

Letters for the president

The first route the Democratic National Committee can take is to send letters confirming Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as its picks for president and vice president. This is the same move Republicans made in Alabama when the party’s convention was past the state’s deadline in 2020.

However, Wes Allen, Alabama’s secretary of state, said Democrats’ choice to do a “provisional” certification, which would notify states before the convention of their choice for Biden as the nominee, will be rebuffed. He said there would be “no exceptions” to the law setting the Aug. 15 deadline.

Force an in-state deadline change

Democrats are also looking to get the deadline changed through the state legislatures. A bill written by Alabama Democratic state Sen. Merika Coleman was introduced on Thursday and would move the state’s deadline to Aug. 23. Coleman has received no indication that the bill won’t pass.

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Randy Kelley accused Allen of “partisan gamesmanship,” citing that in the past, the GOP was able to resolve problems with ballot certification. 

“While this issue with convention dates has occurred many times in the past, notably with the Alabama GOP in 2004, 2012, and 2020, it appears to only be a problem this year now that the Democrats’ convention is behind the deadline,” Kelley said in a statement.

Legal action

Democrats are also considering taking legal action, given Alabama has made exceptions for GOP candidates for provisional agreements in the past.

Barry Ragsdale, an attorney representing the Biden campaign, said the court would interpret state laws to ensure constitutional rights are protected.

“Here, a court would have little difficulty finding that strict application of the eighty-two-day deadline imposes a severe restriction on President Biden and Vice President Harris’s access to the ballot,” Ragsdale wrote. “If strictly enforced, the deadline would prevent one of the two major party presidential candidates from appearing on the general election ballot — an unjust and unconstitutional result.”

Virtual vote

Democrats could also hold a virtual vote ahead of the party’s convention to nominate Biden and Harris.

The Democratic National Convention in Chicago will happen four days after Alabama’s Aug. 15 deadline and 12 days after Ohio’s Aug. 7 deadline for parties to submit their nominees. In Ohio, legal counsel suggests the DNC would have to change its deadline for certification or pass a law changing its deadline by May 9. Ohio state laws require that ballot certification occur 90 days before the general election.

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Josh Marcus-Blank, Biden’s campaign manager, said he is expecting provisional agreements to be reached in Alabama and Ohio.

“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states,” Marcus-Blank said in a statement. “State officials have the ability to grant provisional ballot access certification prior to the conclusion of presidential nominating conventions. In 2020 alone, states like Alabama, Illinois, Montana, and Washington all allowed provisional certification for Democratic and Republican nominees.”

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