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Biden off the November ballot in Alabama? There are other examples in the State’s political history

Pat Duggins

President Joe Biden's reelection campaign continues wrangling with Republican-dominated state governments in Ohio and Alabama to assure he is listed on their fall ballots, as once-mundane procedural negotiations get caught up in the nation's fractious politics. It’s apparently happened before in Alabama history.

Published reports point to two other examples where Alabama did this. The New York Times reported in 1964 how the names of President Lyndon Johnson and his running mate Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota failed to appear on Alabama’s ballot. Critics of the State point to LBJ’s signing of the U.S. Civil Rights Act that same year. Time Magazine reported in 1948 how President Harry Truman was denied inclusion on Alabama's ballot. That was also the year the President ordered the desegregation of the U.S. Military.

As far as the argument over President Biden is concerned, APR previously reported how Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen told The Associated Press that he will not accept a provisional certification because he does not have legal authority to do so. Allen said he sent a letter to the Alabama Democratic Party notifying them of the date problem as a "heads up" so they could address the issue.

"I'm not denying anybody. I'm just telling them what the law is," Allen said. "I took an oath to uphold Alabama law and that's what I'm going to do."

The state's Democratic Party chair, Randy Kelley, accused Allen of "partisan gamesmanship," pointing out that Alabama has made adjustments to accommodate late Republican conventions in the past.

Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent a similar letter to the Ohio Democratic Party last week. The letter suggested the party needed either to reschedule its convention or obtain a legislative fix by May 9 to get Biden on the November 5 ballot.

Both states, which carry a combined 26 electoral votes, have deadlines for appearing on the ballot that precede the Democratic National Convention from Aug. 19 to Aug. 22 in Chicago. Lawyers for Biden's campaign have asked their secretaries of state to accept provisional certifications before the cutoff, which would then be updated once Biden is formally nominated.

That's where things have gotten sticky. Election chiefs in both states have identified solutions that are putting Democrats in the tenuous position of asking Republicans for help. Though former President Donald Trump is favored to win both states, any absence of a sitting president from the ballot could sway faith in the electoral outcome.

It also raises the question: Will the divided parties be able to cooperate for the sake of voters?

The notion of striking a presidential candidate from a ballot began with a legal campaign last year to remove former Trump from various state ballots by citing a rarely used clause of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment prohibiting those who "engaged in insurrection" from holding office. After Democratic-dominated states including Colorado and Maine did so, Republicans warned they could counter by barring Biden from ballots in red states if the Supreme Court didn't reverse the actions.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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