Ohio Independent Candidate for Legislature Kept Off Ballot Because of his Political Behavior

On August 15, U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith denied ballot access to Greg V. Jolivette, an independent candidate for Ohio state house, 51st district. Jolivette had enough valid signatures, but he was still kept off the ballot because election officials, and the judge, believe he had too many ties to the Republican Party. Here is the decision in Jolivette v Husted, southern district, 2:12-cv-603.

Jolivette is not a sore loser and he did not even vote in the Republican primary, but the judge used Jolivette’s recent close ties with the Republican Party to rule against him. Ohio has the nation’s vaguest law on who can or cannot be an independent candidate. In Ohio, the voter registration form does not ask a candidate to choose a party (or independent status), so there is no concrete method to determine someone’s party membership (or independent status) except the record of whether the candidate votes in a party primary. But even though Jolivette didn’t vote in the Republican primary, he is still tagged as a Republican, against his will. The candidate is appealing to the 6th circuit, which is expediting the case. All briefs will be in by August 31.


  1. Jim Riley · · Reply

    Jolivette had filed as a Republican in December, but had failed to sign one of his part-petitions, and 6 signatures were challenged on other part-petitions, leaving him one signature short of the 50 needed to be placed on the ballot. He had initially sought to get 2 signatures counted, and the county elections board had given him additional time to gather evidence. A few days later he withdrew his appeal on the petition signatures, and resigned from the Republican county committee. He had also failed to update his campaign finance documents to indicate that he was not a Republican, until 2 months after he had filed as an independent.

    So he had acted as a Republican in this election cycle.

    The fundamental problem is that Ohio has different times for filing candidacies.

    If they used a Top 2 primary, then he could have filed as preferring the Republican Party, or not having a preference.

    Or if they used a Texas-style form of party affiliation, he would have made a declaration of candidacy as either a Republican or independent, contemporaneously, and then qualified for the general election ballot either by the primary or gathering signatures around the time of the primary.

    Note that in Texas, the act of signing a petition to place a candidate on a primary ballot is an affiliating action. So anyone signing Jolivette’s original petition was saying that they were Republicans; if he signed his own petition, he was representing that he was a Republican.

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