Alabama officials clear way for Biden to appear on state’s fall ballot

Alabama officials have enacted legislation that will allow President Joe Biden to appear on the state’s November ballot, less than a month after the Republican secretary of state warned that Democrats might miss a state deadline to formally name him as their nominee.

Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday signed into law a bill that pushes back Alabama’s certification deadline from 82 days before the election to 74 days. This will give Democrats time to submit Biden’s name after he formally becomes the nominee at their national convention this summer.

The state House passed the measure earlier Thursday, while the state Senate did so early last week. Republicans hold overwhelming majorities in both chambers.

The latest developments in Alabama put to rest a politically charged drama that may have otherwise turned into a legal battle between Democrats and state officials.

“Election after election, states across the country have acted in line with the bipartisan consensus and taken the necessary steps to ensure the presidential nominees from both parties will be on the ballot,” Biden campaign spokesperson Charles Lutvak said in a statement.

Wes Allen, Alabama’s secretary of state, warned state Democrats and the Democratic National Committee last month that the timing of their national convention could conflict with the state’s certification deadline of August 15. The Democratic convention will take place August 19-22, while Republicans are holding their convention in July.

Allen’s warning came days after election officials in Ohio flagged that the Democratic convention would take place after the Buckeye State’s August 7 deadline to certify presidential candidates.

In recent years, lawmakers and state election officials have quietly resolved certification timeline issues by either enacting legislation to push back the deadline or accepting provisional certifications from political parties.

Four years ago, when the Republican convention took place a week after Alabama’s deadline, Allen’s predecessor, also a Republican, accepted a provisional certification from the national GOP in anticipation of President Donald Trump being named the nominee. Democrats also submitted a provisional certification.

Allen, however, has insisted that state law doesn’t allow for provisional certification.

In Ohio, which requires parties to submit the names of their nominees 90 days before the general election, the path forward is less clear. State officials have said they won’t accept provisional certification.

Historically, lawmakers have resolved the issue by passing legislation to move back the deadline. Such a legislative fix would need to be enacted by May 9, the legal counsel for Ohio’s Republican secretary of state, Frank LaRose, told Democrats last month.

Ohio’s Republican State Senate president, Matt Huffman, expressed confidence last month that Biden would be on the ballot, whether that’s through legislation or the involvement of federal courts.

He pointed to the US Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in March to keep Trump on the primary ballot in Colorado, despite a state high court ruling that he had violated the insurrection clause of the 14th amendment.

“The federal court is not going to allow the state of Ohio to say you can’t have Joe Biden on the ballot,” Huffman said during an episode of his podcast. “That’s just not going to happen.”

This story and headline have been updated.

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