Andrew Yang Blocked From Appearing on Ohio Primary Ballot, Campaign Launches Write-In Effort

Andrew Yang is being forced to launch a write-in campaign in Ohio because a "bureaucratic paperwork issue" has prevented his name from being placed on the upcoming March 17 Democratic presidential primary ballot.

Yang and his supporters are accusing Ohio state election officials of denying voters their First Amendment rights after he acquired "three times" the amount of signatures needed to appear on the ballot in March. Ohio officials have denied his application to appear on the ballots due to an issue, The Hill reported, as involving the state's code for filing a declaration of candidacy. None of the other Democratic primary candidates have been kept off the ballot over this or any other paperwork issues.

Frank LaRose, Ohio's Secretary of State, explained the issue in a statement Saturday. He wrote in a tweet: "By failing to follow Ohio law, Mr. Yang's campaign has let down the Ohioans who wanted to support him. That's truly unfortunate, but my oath requires me to uniformly carry out the law, and that's what I'll do."

Yang's campaign confirmed to Newsweek that Ohio's Secretary of State's office denied the campaign's application to appear on the primary ballot.

"My campaign submitted nearly three times the amount of signatures needed, virtually ensuring I would be on the ballot in Ohio. Nevertheless, because of a bureaucratic paperwork issue caused by an awkwardly-worded law, nearly 3,000 Ohioans' First Amendment rights have been denied. As a non-politician, it's unfathomable that this could happen, but we're not going to let democracy be thwarted and we are thrilled that we've made every other ballot with ease," Yang wrote in a statement issued Friday.

The Yang campaign declined to elaborate on the "bureaucratic paperwork issue" in an email with Newsweek Saturday, but a campaign insider was optimistic about their ability to "mount a significant and credible write-in campaign in which Andrew Yang could still finish in a way that would secure delegates."

Yang himself expressed hope -- and offered a Pete Buttigieg joke -- in regards to his write-in campaign: "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."

Both Yang and Buttigieg posted large fundraising numbers to close out 2019, prompting optimism that two candidates who began the race with very few national connections - and little name recognition - can move deep into the primary elections.

But Yang's supporters took to social media to express frustration and anger over the state preventing the lawyer-turned-tech businessman from appearing on the ballot in March - coincidentally on St. Patrick's Day.

"Myself along with dozens of other dedicated volunteers got those signatures to get Yang on the OH ballot and I will be DAMNED if he gets left off. I promise you the Ohio Secretary of State will be hearing from the OhioYangGang first thing Monday morning. Love y'all," wrote Twitter user Bradley James.

"I struggle to fathom how this bureaucracy could be dampened by anything short of a revolution. Just watch. Andrew Yang will be the first write-in candidate to win a Presidential Primary in Ohio. We. Will. Make. Waves. As for the Ohio Secretary of State..." responded Quentin Platt, in a lengthy Twitter thread blasting Ohio's decision.

andrew yang ohio ballot blocked
Andrew Yang is being forced to launch a write-in campaign after a "bureaucratic paperwork issue" prevented his name from being placed on the upcoming March 17 primary ballot. SCOTT EISEN / Stringer/GETTY IMAGES