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Primary elections results, general election uncertainties

June 1, 2020
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By Kelsey Bergfeld, Coalition Manager, Advocates for Ohio’s FutureHope Lane, Public Policy & External Affairs AssociateKate Warren, Research Associate  

The primary elections in Ohio, and many other states, faced unique challenges due to health risks associated with COVID-19 for in-person voters and poll workers. Amid conflicting proposals between Governor Mike DeWine and other political leaders to modify election dates and procedures, including last-minute lawsuits to postpone the election further, Ohio legislators passed emergency coronavirus legislation (House Bill 197) that extended the March 17 primary election to April 28. With this legislation, the majority of voters voted by mail with limited in-person available for a select few.

 Conducting the primary election chiefly by mail without much notice to voters or preparation by county boards of elections led to confusion and access issues for voters across the state.

Conducting the primary election chiefly by mail without much notice to voters or preparation by county boards of elections led to confusion and access issues for voters across the state. Despite improvements and upgrades to the election mail delivery system requested by Secretary of State Frank LaRose and promised by the United States Postal Service Postmaster General, thousands of voters didn’t receive their absentee ballot request forms or ballots themselves by the new election date.[i] In Butler County hundreds of ballots were unable to be counted because they were delivered to the county board of elections late, despite being postmarked by the appropriate deadline.[ii]  Despite six additional weeks of voting time, fewer than a quarter of Ohio’s registered voters, just 23 percent, cast their ballots in the 2020 primary.[iii]  

The maps below were created by Community Solutions in partnership with Advocates for Ohio’s Future. They show the certified primary winners in Ohio’s state legislative districts. These names will appear on the ballot in the November 3 general election.

 The deadline to register to vote in the general election is October 5 and early voting begins on October 6.

Considering some candidates could drop out before the general election, we encourage you to verify your candidate of choice is still running in the race before placing your vote. As of June 1, the deadline to register to vote in the general election is October 5 and early voting begins on October 6. Registered voters may request an absentee ballot beginning 90 days before the date of an election, as early as August 5 for the 2020 general election.  

To register to vote, check your registration or request an absentee ballot, please visit voteohio.gov.

General election outlook

Given the likelihood of the hazards of COVID-19 lasting through the fall, elected leaders in Ohio have started to propose changes to voting procedures and deadlines for the general election.  

Secretary of State LaRose encourages vote-by-mail in November, but currently intends for the state to offer in-person voting and advises boards of elections to consolidate polling places and boost poll worker recruitment. LaRose proposes to also:

  • Make absentee ballot requests available online
  • Send out ballot request forms to all Ohioans with a pre-paid envelope
  • Extend the 90-day period to request absentee ballots to prepare for a potential increase in voters casting ballots by mail
  • Give additional flexibility and funds to local county boards of electionsIn addition to LaRose’s plans, other elected leaders have proposed the following policies:
  • Additional early voting centers in larger counties
  • Mail each registered voter a postage-paid ballot
  • Extend voter registration deadline
  • Add additional weeks of early voting
 In order to ensure county boards have enough time to purchase new equipment or make large-scale changes, lawmakers will have to pass legislation sometime in the first half of summer.

Ohio’s General Assembly will need to decide what is best for the state soon. LaRose has said in order to ensure county boards have enough time to purchase new equipment or make large-scale changes, lawmakers will have to pass legislation sometime in the first half of summer.  

[i] 9K local voters didn’t get requested ballots, changes called for in November, Dayton Daily News, May 3,  

[ii] More than 300 Butler County ballots delivered late won't count in Ohio primary, Cincinnati.com May 12, 2020  

[iii] Ohio’s primary election draws turnout below 23 percent, Dayton Daily News, April 29, 2020  

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