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Ohio lawmakers negotiate to assure Biden makes the state's fall ballot

The William McKinley Monument is silhouetted in front of the west side of the Ohio Statehouse, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio.  (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File) The William McKinley Monument is silhouetted in front of the west side of the Ohio Statehouse, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

Republican legislative leaders in Ohio say they are negotiating with Democrats to assure U.S. President Joe Biden appears on the state's November ballot, but the exact shape of the solution remains murky.

GOP Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman told reporters Wednesday that productive discussions are under way between both legislative chambers and both political parties about how to fix the fact that the Democratic National Convention, where Biden is to be formally nominated, falls after Ohio's ballot deadline of Aug. 7. The convention will be held Aug. 19-22 in Chicago.

“Certainly, it's something that's going to happen. We need to take care of it,” Huffman said, seeming to adjust his earlier stance that it was “a Democratic problem” that was up to the General Assembly's minority party to work out. He said the answer may be added to an existing bill or it could be contained in a stand-alone measure.

On Tuesday, Republican House Speaker Jason Stephens expressed support for doing something to fix the problem with Ohio's deadline not just for this election cycle, but on a longer term basis.

Since Ohio changed its certification deadline from 60 to 90 days ahead of its general election, state lawmakers have had to adjust the requirement twice, in 2012 and 2020, to accommodate candidates of both parties. Each change was only temporary.

Huffman said he also favors a more permanent solution.

Senate Democratic Leader Nickie Antonio continued to express confidence Wednesday that Biden will make Ohio's ballot, saying that “all options are being explored.”

“The discussion is there, and it will become reality when we see it,” she said. Antonio said a proxy war between Huffman and Stephens for next session's speakership is “the elephant in the room” that may be causing delays.

As Ohio nears the May 9 cutoff set by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, legislation meant to ensure Biden will appear on fall ballots in Alabama cleared the state's Senate Tuesday. The Alabama bill offers accommodations to the president like those made four years ago for then-U.S. president Donald Trump.

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