DES MOINES — Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson will be on Iowa's ballot in November after officials concluded Wednesday that a state law requiring a convention to get on the ballot is too vague.
A panel made up of Republican Secretary of State Matt Schultz, Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller and Warren Jenkins, the chief deputy for Republican Auditor David Vaudt, voted unanimously to allow Johnson's name to be listed.
Libertarians say they held a convention at the Iowa State Fair to get Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico, onto Iowa's ballot.
Johnson's candidacy was challenged last week by two Iowa voters, Gloria Mazza, of Clive, and Dean Montgomery, of Urbandale, who said Libertarians didn't hold a real convention. Instead, the challenge says Libertarians had volunteers persuade fairgoers to sign a document that said they were delegates for Johnson.
Jay Kramer, who said in the documents that he is the Election Day operations director in Iowa for Mitt Romney's campaign, signed the challenge as a witness.
Libertarians say Republicans fear Johnson will pull enough votes from Romney to allow President Barack Obama to carry Iowa. In a very close election, even small states such as Iowa are viewed as important.
The Republican Party and Romney's campaign did not return messages seeking comment.
At Wednesday's meeting, Miller and Jenkins were initially prepared to vote to keep Johnson off the ballot, concluding that Libertarians had not held a convention or caucus. Schultz, however, argued that the law isn't clear in its definitions and that when in doubt open ballot access should prevail.
"We try to give the benefit of the doubt to those people being challenged," he said.
After discussion, Miller and Jenkins were persuaded by Schultz to vote unanimously to allow Johnson on the ballot and send a message to the Legislature to rewrite the law to be clearer.