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Early voting is under way in Ohio for rare August statewide primary

Voting machines in Ohio
Daniel Konik
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Voting machines in Ohio.

Early voting is now under way for Ohio’s rare, statewide August primary for state legislative races — which were delayed because of state leaders’ inability to reach an agreement on new district maps.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose says local boards of elections are administering early, in-person voting and voting by mail for the election to determine the party nominees in state legislative races.

“That goes for the next four weeks. That includes evening and weekend hours. You can vote absentee. You can vote early, in-person or on Election Day,” LaRose said.

Ohioans voted on congressional, statewide, and local primaries on May 3 but — because of legal battles over redistricting — the primaries for Ohio House and Ohio Senate races were removed from the ballot.

Along with state legislative contests, elections for party committee seats and some local races will also be on the August 2 ballot.

Community organizations and voting rights groups have reported a large amount of confusion among voters who are unaware of the August election since they just voted in May.

"To have a statewide primary on August 2 is unusual," LaRose said.

He added that local boards of elections always have the first Tuesday in August set aside for a possible election if they need it. But LaRose said it's hard for the county boards to staff elections this close together.

"It's always a challenge to recruit adequate numbers of poll workers but on an August 2 election, it will be even more challenging," LaRose said.

LaRose said his office has been working with local boards of elections on making sure voters have ballots they need and assisting with poll worker recruitment. He urged college students on summer break to volunteer to work polls, noting they'd get paid for the day and added it would give them an "opportunity to see how secure Ohio's elections are."

In the past, LaRose has been accused of not coming down hard against former President Donald Trump's incorrect assertions that voter fraud is a problem. Ohio has had very few cases of voter fraud in past elections, and Trump won the state in 2016 and 2020.

As for voter confusion, LaRose encouraged Ohioans to vote absentee. He said doing so from the comfort of your home means you are "allowed to cheat on the test" by looking up information and researching the candidates as you go along the ballot.

He said voters who want to know who is up for election in their area can go to voteohio.gov/districts to find that information. They can also find maps of where their polling places are for early voting and on Election Day.

The additional primary is expected to cost the state between $20 to $25 million.
Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.