Voting for the May 3 primary races continues, despite uncertainty over the legislative cards.
May’s primary ballot will include races for governor, attorney general, state auditor, secretary of state, state treasurer, Ohio Supreme Court and congressional races for the Senate U.S. and U.S. House of Representatives, as well as judicial and municipal candidates.
The only races left on the May ballot are legislative races for the Ohio Senate and Ohio House of Representatives, as well as members of the state’s Central Committee. They will participate in a second primary, potentially later this summer.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose noted this in a recent press release regarding the Ohio Supreme Court’s rejection of the legislative maps, attempting to clear up confusion about having two primary elections.
“The latest court ruling has no impact on this election (May 3 primary), and contests for state, congressional, and local offices and issues will proceed as scheduled,” he said. said LaRose. “This decision only affects the central political party committee and state legislative contests, which have not yet been scheduled.”
Wednesday is an important date in the legislative redistricting file, which has been going on since last September. A U.S. district court considering legal action to force a ruling on legislative maps asked the secretary of state’s office when maps would need to be in place to hold an Aug. 2 primary. The office gave April 20 as the last day that option would be viable for a poll of legislative races to be ready for a primary on August 2.
The date folds into nomination deadlines, time for county election boards to reprogram voting machines and adjust district maps to help voters identify who they can vote for, as well as windows for early voting.
Wednesday will now pass without a map to review, after a 4-3 majority of the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the fourth attempt at legislative maps was unconstitutional, just a simple modification of a third map they dismissed as unduly partisan.
In the state Supreme Court’s latest rejection, the majority justices questioned why Aug. 2 was the “last available date for a primary election in Ohio.”
“We note that several states will have primary elections on or after August 16, 2022, including four states that will have their primary elections in September,” the court wrote in its April 14 ruling.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the statement “indicates a shocking and clear ignorance of Ohio law.”
Ohio’s elections operate on 90-day schedules, LaRose told members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission in a Tuesday letter. Sixty of these days are used to prepare for the elections and 30 days are made up of post-election audits and certifications.
“If you apply the 90-day calendar established in state law to the available dates between May 3… and November 8 (the general election), that brings us to — you guessed it — August 2,” LaRose wrote to legislative and statewide leaders. commission officials.
This date is listed in state law as a fallback date in case a special election is needed. But any point beyond that date encroaches on the 90-day timetable for the general election, the state’s chief election officer said.
LaRose said election requirements in the state set the filing deadline for nonpartisan races in the Aug. 8 general election.
“To be clear, any primary held after August 2 would directly conflict with the statutory deadlines required for the general election,” LaRose wrote in a statement.
The General Assembly could change those statutory requirements, just as it could change the dates of the primaries, but legislative leaders have done nothing to do so, claiming a lack of interest from the legislature as a whole.
The Ohio Redistricting Commission has until May 6 to propose new maps for Statehouse districts and so far has made no move to restart the process. The Democratic members of the commission, Senator Vernon Sykes and House Minority Leader Allison Russo, sent a letter to the commission members asking that the process be restarted as soon as possible.
“We believe the commission should reconvene in the coming days and rehire the freelance mappers that were used in the last mapping cycle,” the letter said.
It’s unclear what the federal court will do now that the April 20 date will pass without a constitutional map, but they have maintained throughout the lawsuit prosecution process that they would only intervene in the state process. if absolutely necessary. They have already decided not to intervene twice since the complaint was filed, once regarding legislative maps and once regarding the redistricting of Congress.
LaRose, however, appears to be putting his money on federal court, after singling out Ohio Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Brunner – a former secretary of state who is running for chief justice – as part of a majority of courts that “ignore and in fact attempt to rewrite the main requirements of election administration literally set out in statute.
“We will enforce these statutory deadlines in Federal Court and hope that constitutional convictions will prevail,” LaRose wrote in a statement.
Data released Tuesday by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office showed that 125,118 mail-in ballots were requested and nearly 45,000 votes were cast ahead of the May 3 primary.
Early voting is in its third week and continues through May 2.
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