Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang faces a roadblock in Ohio, a state that The Guardian reported has experienced voter purges that have “clearly benefited Republicans.” According to Newsweek, Yang is being blocked from Ohio’s March 17 Democratic presidential primary ballot due to a “bureaucratic paperwork issue.”
“By failing to follow Ohio law, Mr. Yang’s campaign has let down the Ohioans who wanted to support him,” Frank LaRose, Ohio’s Secretary of State, tweeted on Saturday. “That’s truly unfortunate, but my oath requires me to uniformly carry out the law, and that’s what I’ll do.”
According to LaRose, Yang’s campaign failed to follow Ohio law, R.C. 3513.09, which requires a campaign to gather signatures on part-petitions that include a complete statement from the candidate about their intention to run.
In response, Yang’s campaign noted that it submitted almost three times the number of signatures needed but was ultimately stifled by a “bureaucratic paperwork issue” stemming from an “awkwardly-worded law.” Nevertheless, the campaign officially announced a write-in campaign in Ohio that Yang joked would benefit from his “easily-spelled last name” — an apparent jab at Pete Buttigieg’s last name.
The news wasn’t taken lightly by social media commenters, who noted the reports of Ohio voter suppression and LaRose’s Republican Party membership.
“Y’all still think Republican politicians would help Yang win legislative victories?” one user wrote.
Ohio teacher and writer Brett Pransky used the opportunity to take a jab at LaRose and the state’s purported voter suppression.
“I wonder if he’ll have the intestinal fortitude to go on purging Ohio voters from the rolls. Something tells me he’ll soldier on,” Pransky tweeted before claiming that LaRose would “find 19 different ways” to make things work for “one of his own.”
Ohio Secretary of State @FrankLaRose has released the following statement on the Yang filing error. The Ohio SOS office was not privy to the Yang's process of receiving signatures, but the campaign did file incomplete paperwork upon deadline. pic.twitter.com/xqtXKsfDIN
— Kelsey Walsh (@Kjwalsh_news) January 4, 2020
According to The Guardian report, a 2016 Reuters analysis found that voters in Democratic neighborhoods in Ohio’s three largest counties were purged from voter rolls at almost twice the rate as voters in Republican counties. In Cincinnati’s mostly African-American communities, more than 10 percent of voters were removed from rolls — a stark contrast to the 4 percent in the suburbs.
Ohio Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney previously wrote to LaRose in July of last year to urge him to reconsider the September 6, 2019, voter purge, which The Columbus Dispatch reported led to the purging of 180,000 voters, most of which had not cast a ballot for six years.
According to LaRose’s office, some of the registrations may have been duplicates, belong to people who have moved without notifying the postal service, or belonged to deceased voters. Regardless, voter purging is controversial as some claim it may affect politically apathetic voters.