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Yang to launch write-in campaign for Ohio primary

Entrepreneur Andrew YangAndrew YangMedia and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk Andrew Yang: Democrats need to adopt message that government is 'working for them' Andrew Yang moving to Georgia to help Democrats in Senate runoffs MORE will launch a write-in campaign to appear on the Ohio presidential primary ballot after an issue with his application prevented it from being approved.

Yang's campaign told The Hill that it is launching the effort after its application to appear on the primary ballot on March 17 was denied due to a bureaucratic issue, despite it delivering the necessary signatures needed.

“My campaign submitted nearly three times the amount of signatures needed, virtually ensuring I would be on the ballot in Ohio," Yang said in a statement to The Hill. "Nevertheless, because of a bureaucratic paperwork issue caused by an awkwardly-worded law, nearly 3,000 Ohioans’ First Amendment rights have been denied.

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“Despite this setback, Ohioans will have an opportunity to cast their ballot for me in the democratic presidential primary as I'm officially announcing a write-in campaign in Ohio, aided by our incredible grassroots support, 400,000 donors across the country, and the fact that I have such an easily-spelled last name," he added.

The Yang campaign did not elaborate on the bureaucratic issue that prevented its application from being approved, citing a potential legal battle; however, it did say the problem involved Ohio’s code for filing declaration of candidacy.

“Unfortunately, due to a bureaucratic paperwork error caused by a lack of clarity in the Ohio law regarding submission protocols for signed petitions, the Secretary of State’s office denied the candidate access to the ballot,” a campaign insider told The Hill. 

No other presidential campaign has cited issues qualifying for the March ballot.

The Yang campaign will officially launch its write-in campaign Monday. Former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio), who has not endorsed the Yang campaign but supports the write-in effort, will alert the secretary of the campaign that same day.

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“I want to defeat Trump, and I believe that the best way to do that is to have a vigorous contest of ideas in the Democratic primaries, including the Ohio primary,” Kilroy told The Hill. “I believe strongly that the voters should be able to make their choices among all of the remaining presidential candidates.” 

The Ohio Secretary of State's office told The Hill that the issue with the Yang campaign's paperwork was that it did not include with its forms a statement from the candidate stating their intention to run.

Ohio law requires campaigns to include three components when gathering signatures for a petition: who the part-petition is for, the signatures, and a circulator statement from the person who gathered the signatures. The secretary's office said Yang's campaign failed to include the first part on the vast majority of their petitions.

“As Secretary of State, I'm duty-bound to follow the law, and the law is clear - when Ohioans sign a petition they deserve to know what they’re signing. This is why petition forms must be submitted complete with a statement from the candidate stating their intention to run. By their own admission, the Yang campaign failed to do that," Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose told The Hill.

"I sincerely sympathize with those who hoped to support his candidacy in the Ohio presidential primary - it’s truly unfortunate that the Yang campaign has let them down. Virtually every presidential, congressional, and state legislative candidate in Ohio has successfully completed the process over the many decades since it became law.”

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Yang, who entered the presidential race with virtually no national name recognition, has enjoyed a surprising amount of staying power in the primary field, outlasting and outfundraising several more established politicians with greater name recognition.

Yang admitted he’s a political outsider, but said he was determined to appear on the Ohio primary ballot.

“As a non-politician, it’s unfathomable that this could happen,” he said, “but we’re not going to let democracy be thwarted and we are thrilled that we’ve made every other ballot with ease.”