3513.257 Independent candidates statements of candidacy and nominating petitions.

Each person desiring to become an independent candidate for an office for which candidates may be nominated at a primary election, except persons desiring to become independent joint candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor and for the offices of president and vice-president of the United States, shall file no later than four p.m. of the day before the day of the primary election immediately preceding the general election at which such candidacy is to be voted for by the voters, a statement of candidacy and nominating petition as provided in section 3513.261 of the Revised Code. Persons desiring to become independent joint candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor shall file, not later than four p.m. of the day before the day of the primary election, one statement of candidacy and one nominating petition for the two of them. Persons desiring to become independent joint candidates for the offices of president and vice-president of the United States shall file, not later than four p.m. of the ninetieth day before the day of the general election at which the president and vice-president are to be elected, one statement of candidacy and one nominating petition for the two of them. The prospective independent joint candidates' statement of candidacy shall be filed with the nominating petition as one instrument.

The statement of candidacy and separate petition papers of each candidate or pair of joint candidates shall be filed at the same time as one instrument.

The nominating petition shall contain signatures of qualified electors of the district, political subdivision, or portion of a political subdivision in which the candidacy is to be voted on in an amount to be determined as follows:

(A) If the candidacy is to be voted on by electors throughout the entire state, the nominating petition, including the nominating petition of independent joint candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor, shall be signed by no less than five thousand qualified electors, provided that no petition shall be accepted for filing if it purports to contain more than fifteen thousand signatures.

(B) If the candidacy is to be voted on by electors in any district, political subdivision, or part thereof in which less than five thousand electors voted for the office of governor at the most recent election for that office, the nominating petition shall contain signatures of not less than twenty-five qualified electors of the district, political subdivision, or part thereof, or a number of qualified signatures equal to at least five per cent of that vote, if this number is less than twenty-five.

(C) If the candidacy is to be voted on by electors in any district, political subdivision, or part thereof in which five thousand or more electors voted for the office of governor at the most recent election for that office, the nominating petition shall contain a number of signatures equal to at least one per cent of those electors.

All nominating petitions of candidates for offices to be voted on by electors throughout the entire state shall be filed in the office of the secretary of state. No nominating petition for the offices of president and vice-president of the United States shall be accepted for filing unless there is submitted to the secretary of state, at the time of filing the petition, a slate of presidential electors sufficient in number to satisfy the requirement of the United States Constitution. The secretary of state shall not accept for filing the statement of candidacy of a person who desires to be an independent candidate for the office of governor unless it also shows the joint candidacy of a person who desires to be an independent candidate for the office of lieutenant governor, shall not accept for filing the statement of candidacy of a person who desires to be an independent candidate for the office of lieutenant governor unless it also shows the joint candidacy of a person who desires to be an independent candidate for the office of governor, and shall not accept for filing the statement of candidacy of a person who desires to be an independent candidate to the office of governor or lieutenant governor who, for the same election, has already filed a declaration of candidacy, a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate, or a statement of candidacy, or has become a candidate by the filling of a vacancy under section 3513.30 of the Revised Code for any other state office or any federal or county office.

Nominating petitions of candidates for offices to be voted on by electors within a district or political subdivision comprised of more than one county but less than all counties of the state shall be filed with the boards of elections of that county or part of a county within the district or political subdivision which had a population greater than that of any other county or part of a county within the district or political subdivision according to the last federal decennial census.

Nominating petitions for offices to be voted on by electors within a county or district smaller than a county shall be filed with the board of elections for such county.

No petition other than the petition of a candidate whose candidacy is to be considered by electors throughout the entire state shall be accepted for filing if it appears on its face to contain more than three times the minimum required number of signatures. A board of elections shall not accept for filing a nominating petition of a person seeking to become a candidate if that person, for the same election, has already filed a declaration of candidacy, a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate, or a nominating petition, or has become a candidate by the filling of a vacancy under section 3513.30 of the Revised Code for any federal, state, or county office, if the nominating petition is for a state or county office, or for any municipal or township office, for member of a city, local, or exempted village board of education, or for member of a governing board of an educational service center, if the nominating petition is for a municipal or township office, or for member of a city, local, or exempted village board of education, or for member of a governing board of an educational service center. When a petition of a candidate has been accepted for filing by a board of elections, the petition shall not be deemed invalid if, upon verification of signatures contained in the petition, the board of elections finds the number of signatures accepted exceeds three times the minimum number of signatures required. A board of elections may discontinue verifying signatures when the number of verified signatures on a petition equals the minimum required number of qualified signatures.

Any nonjudicial candidate who files a nominating petition may request, at the time of filing, that the candidate be designated on the ballot as a nonparty candidate or as an other-party candidate, or may request that the candidate's name be placed on the ballot without any designation. Any such candidate who fails to request a designation either as a nonparty candidate or as an other-party candidate shall have the candidate's name placed on the ballot without any designation.

The purpose of establishing a filing deadline for independent candidates prior to the primary election immediately preceding the general election at which the candidacy is to be voted on by the voters is to recognize that the state has a substantial and compelling interest in protecting its electoral process by encouraging political stability, ensuring that the winner of the election will represent a majority of the community, providing the electorate with an understandable ballot, and enhancing voter education, thus fostering informed and educated expressions of the popular will in a general election. The filing deadline for independent candidates required in this section prevents splintered parties and unrestrained factionalism, avoids political fragmentation, and maintains the integrity of the ballot. The deadline, one day prior to the primary election, is the least drastic or restrictive means of protecting these state interests. The general assembly finds that the filing deadline for independent candidates in primary elections required in this section is reasonably related to the state's purpose of ensuring fair and honest elections while leaving unimpaired the political, voting, and associational rights secured by the first and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution.

Amended by 128th General AssemblyFile No.29, HB 48, §1, eff. 7/2/2010.

Effective Date: 2002 HB445 12-23-2002; 09-29-2005; 05-02-2006