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Government & Politics

What to Know When You Go to the Polls

Photo of Jon Husted

  Today is primary election day in Ohio, one of five in the country.  Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted joined Amanda Rabinowitz live during Morning Edition to talk about the day's vote.

All eyes are on Ohio:  Governor John Kasich is in a tight race with Donald Trump in the GOP contest, while yesterday’s Quinnipiac poll has the race between Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders tightening.  When it comes to turnout, Husted expects it to be high.

"We'll see if it's a record turnout or not.  So far, we've had 500,000 people request absentee ballots, 258,00 of those Republicans, 226,000 Democrats and that is one of the highest early vote turnouts we've had."

That's the highest since 2008.

Can you decide at the polls which party's ballot to pull?
"You can.  You would have to go in and request the ballot of a particular party, but you would, by virtue of doing that, become a registered member of that party, and that would be public information."  Husted says they tend to see that happening during competitive elections.  He adds the switches can  happen as voters decide to change party to vote for a candidate or vote against one.

The recent challenge on the right of 17-year-olds to vote
Some 17-year-olds will be able to cast a vote in the primary, following a court ruling last week. Democrat Bernie Sanders campaign and other groups sued Husted's office over the issue.  Why was this an issue?

"For 30 years, 17-year-old have been allowed to vote, but just not on all issues, and that will still be the case today. They won't be able to vote on ballot issues, school levies, central committee candidates, and, frankly, it caught me by surprise, just the way it's always been done, but in the end, as long as everybody's playing by the same rules, it really doesn't impact a particular party or a particular candidate of outcome."  Husted says the most important thing is to  make sure everyone plays by the same set of rules.

Husted says he doesn't plan to take any additional legal action on the matter.  The Constitution clearly states that you must be 18 to be an elector.  In a presidential primary, you're not electing a candidate but rather choosing a delegate.  All the same, he believes the legislature needs to take up the matter and clarify it.

What to bring to the polls
Husted says to be sure to bring a proper ID, a driver's license or a state ID, a utility bill with your address on it, a bank statement, etc.  If you forget all those, Husted says you can still vote on a provisional ballot.  He stresses that no one will be turned away.