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Fate of Ohio's May 3 primary could be determined in the coming days

Daniel Konik
/

Local boards of elections are working to meet certain deadlines in preparation for the primary, such as getting absentee ballots ready for overseas voters and planning for early voting in less than five weeks.

However, those responsibilities are hampered by the pending status of Ohio's state legislative and congressional district maps.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-Ohio) has ordered the local boards of elections to carry out their administrative work based on the new maps adopted by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, which his office says are presumed constitutional.

But plaintiffs have filed objections in court to the new Ohio House and Ohio Senate district maps. The congressional district map approved by the commission on Wednesday is also subject to possible legal objections.

LaRose says it is still possible to carry out the May 3 primary, barring any further action by the court.

"If there were to be another rejection of maps -- whether state legislative or congressional -- at that point it is just not possible that those contests would end up on the May 3 primary. It is simply at that point 'the ship has sailed' I guess you could say," says LaRose.

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) says lawmakers are not considering a vote to move the primary.

"Now, if for some reason there's some court action that sets one or both of the maps aside, then there may be a new consideration. But I think right now we're on track. It'll be tight. But the secretary and the local elections folks are, I think, up to the task," says Huffman.

On Wednesday, Democratic representatives attempted to amend a bill, SB9, on the House floor to move the May 3 primary to June 21. Republican lawmakers tabled that amendment.

The legislature did agree to send an additional $9 million to local elections officials. But the Ohio Association of Elections Officials said in a letter that they appreciate the money to get ready for the election, but what they need is time.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.