COLUMBUS, Ohio — Could Ohio’s primary date be in jeopardy?
As we move closer to the primary, still without court approved maps, how realistic is voting on May 3rd?
“Right now, Ohio finds itself in the middle of an election crisis,” says Ohio Democratic Party Chair, Elizabeth Walters.
The primary is less than 2 months away, meaning the clock ticking on a set of court-approved congressional maps is ringing a little louder.
“We’re now at a point where the boards of election are operating under a very compressed timeline,” says Ohio Secretary of State, Frank LaRose. “They’ve got really a couple of months worth of work to do and only a couple of weeks in which to do it.”
Through delays in the census and with multiple proposed maps ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court due to gerrymandering, the timeline has gotten tight. Military and overseas ballots, as well as petition deadlines, are only about 15 days away.
“We have to get moving to make sure that we have a chance of getting this election done," LaRose adds. "I believe that we will get it done on time, on May 3rd, but it’s going to take every single day for the boards of election to be able to execute on that plan.”
The Redistricting Commission passed a new set of maps earlier this month along party lines and are awaiting the rubber stamp by the Ohio Supreme Court. However, LaRose says there isn’t time to wait around, so he’s instructed the 88 county boards of election to begin the process using those maps.
“I’ve said this is like the kid that believes tomorrow is going to be a snow day and doesn’t do her homework or his homework,” says LaRose. “We can’t just sit and wait to see what’s going to happen with the court.”
Walters sees it a different way. “They passed a map out of the commission on a partisan breakdown, so only Republicans voted for it,” says Walters. “It is an unconstitutional gerrymander. So he’s directed the boards to validate with a map that is not abiding by the court’s direction.”
If the maps are invalidated by the court, LaRose says it would be impossible for a May 3rd primary and it’d be up to the Ohio General Assembly to decide how to proceed. They could potentially move the whole election day back as a unified primary or split things up. Either way, they’re already discussing it.
“I’ve already started working with members of House and Senate leadership, with minority leaders as well, so they understand it would not be possible at that point to conduct the May 3rd primary with those district races and they’d have to start making decisions on what comes next," LaRose adds.