Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose sent a letter to Governor DeWine and the Ohio General Assembly on March 31st stating that unless the Ohio General Assembly voted by Friday, April 1st to move the May 3rd Primary Election to a later date, that a primary election will have to be split on two different dates. Ohio will have to proceed with a primary election for all offices except for the Ohio General Assembly and the state central committees on May 3rd. However, a second primary would need to be held on August 2nd for the offices of State Representative, State Senator, and members of the Republican and Democrat State Central Committees.
Secretary LaRose stated in the letter that the law requires him to instruct the 88 county boards of elections to begin sending ballots to military voters as soon as Saturday, April 2nd.
The boundary lines of Ohio’s 99 Ohio House districts and 33 Ohio Senate districts have been litigated before the Ohio Supreme Court, which to date has invalidated three sets of maps that were approved by the seven member Ohio Redistricting Commission. The fourth set of these maps are now being litigated before the state’s high court.
The ongoing litigation has let to complexities with elections administration. There are many logistical considerations to holding elections, including the procurement of nearly 4,000 polling locations, recruiting and training nearly 56,000 poll workers, and informing voters of changes to these election dates and venues.
State policymakers had waited for a federal court decision ruling and a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, effectively set in motion on Wednesday a bifurcated primary. Ultimately, the court issued a curious decision which refrained from getting involved in the redistricting process unless the Redistricting Commission was unable to produce a constitutional map of Statehouse legislative districts by May 28. If such a contingency occurred, the court indicated that it would probably order the State of Ohio to utilized the third set of maps approved by the Redistricting Commission.