Washington official dismisses concerns Joe Biden may be left off election ballot

Apr 12, 2024, 4:18 PM | Updated: 4:35 pm

Image: President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's work to lower the cost of breathing tr...

President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's work to lower the cost of breathing treatments for asthma and COPD patients during an event in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, April 3, 2024. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

The Washington Secretary of State’s office is brushing off concerns President Joe Biden won’t be on the state’s general election ballot in November.

The state of Washington has an Aug. 20 deadline for the Democratic and Republican parties to notify the state who their nominees are.

“It allows for the county elections offices to get their ballots prepared and in the mail on time,” Stuart Holmes, the director of elections for the secretary of state, told KIRO Newsradio.

But the Democratic National Convention — where the party will officially announce Biden as the nominee at a major event in Chicago — doesn’t begin until Aug. 19 and it goes until Aug. 22.

Holmes emphasizes that there’s a procedural fix for that.

“It’s a formality, at this point,” he said.

This week, Holmes sent a letter to Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Jamie Harrison, warning that the deadline for ballot certification falls during the Democrats’ event in Chicago. ABC News obtained the letter and was first to reported about it Thursday. The Seattle Times also obtained the letter and linked to it in its coverage published late Friday morning.

With that letter, Washington became the third known state this week to alert the Biden campaign and the Democratic party Biden could be left off general election ballots this November. Republican secretaries of state in Ohio and Alabama — states Republican and former President Donald Trump carried in the last two elections — also have indicated they would enforce similar state election codes.

Provisional certification for Joe Biden possible in Washington

Holmes said the secretary of state has told the Democratic Party his office will accept a letter, ahead of time, provisionally certifying Biden as the nominee, and securing his place on the ballot.

“In conversations with them it doesn’t sound like there’s going to be any issues, whatsoever,” Holmes explained.

In fact, he says the secretary of state did the same thing for both the Democratic and Republican parties in 2020, when their national conventions were held late in the summer.

“We let both of those parties know at that point and time what our state law rules were and they both were able to submit their provisional certifications, timely,” Holmes said.

2024 election: Biden, Trump win Washington presidential primaries, clinch parties’ nominations

Biden’s campaign has provided similar responses when earlier news stories were published about the potential schedule conflict, stating they expect the current president to be on the ballot in every state. A new statement also addressed Washington providing that provisional certification in 2020.

“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states,” the Biden campaign said in a statement, according to ABC News. “State officials have the ability to grant provisional ballot access certification prior to the conclusion of presidential nominating conventions. In 2020 alone, states like Alabama, Illinois, Montana, and Washington all allowed provisional certification for Democratic and Republican nominees.”

Alabama law: Nominee names must be submitted 82 days ahead of election

Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen sent a letter to Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Randy Kelley saying that the state’s Aug. 15 certification deadline is just four days before the party’s convention is set to begin. Allen indicated Biden’s name will not appear on the ballot unless the deadline is met.

“If this Office has not received a valid certificate of nomination from the Democratic Party following its convention by the statutory deadline, I will be unable to certify the names of the Democratic Party’s candidates for President and Vice President for ballot preparation for the 2024 general election,” Allen wrote.

Alabama law requires the names of presidential nominees to be submitted 82 days before the election.

The Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature in 2020 passed legislation to change the certification deadline for the 2020 election. The bill stated the change was being made “to accommodate the dates of the 2020 Republican National Convention.”

The deadline was pushed forward about a week that year. It was a one-time change that only applied to that year.

But he asked Kelley to call his office if he had questions.

Kelley told The Associated Press Tuesday night he had contacted the DNC about the matter to see what could be done. An option could be for the party to send in a provisional certification.

Biden’s fraying coalition, Trump’s struggle with moderates: AP data shows nominees’ challenges

Ohio law: Names must be in 90 days before election

Ohio’s deadline to certify presidential candidates for the general election is Aug. 7, nearly two weeks before the Democrats’ convention.

Ohio law requires that presidential candidates be certified 90 days before the general election, which is on Nov. 5 this year, said a letter written last week by Paul DiSantis, chief legal counsel for Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

“Please contact me as soon as possible with any information that can assure this office of timely compliance with Ohio law,” the letter said.

A similar situation came up before the 2020 presidential election. In that case, both the Republican and Democratic conventions were scheduled outside the deadline window so Ohio lawmakers approved changing the cutoff to 60 days — but only for that election.

The letter sent to Ohio Democratic Party Chair Liz Walters said that the legislature would need to act by May 9 to create an exception to the 90-day deadline or that Democrats would need to move up their convention, which would seem unlikely.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Heather Bosch is an award-winning anchor and reporter on KIRO Newsradio. You can read more of her stories here. Follow Heather on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email her here.

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here.

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