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Ohio Secretary of State tells lawmakers if they don't vote Friday, there will be two primaries

Frank LaRose 1.jpg
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks at an Ohio Redistricting Commission meeting in February 2022.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, one of the five Republicans on the commission that approved three sets of legislative maps that have been rejected as unconstitutional, said voters will likely see a split primary.

Ohio’s chief elections official has told state lawmakers unless they vote today to make changes to the May 3 primary, there will be two primaries, with the second one for House and Senate candidates only on August 2.

In a letter to state lawmakers, Secretary of State Frank LaRose said when three federal judges declined to intervene in the redistricting saga until April 20, that "effectively set in motion on Wednesday a bifurcated primary".

LaRose voted for all the maps that have been ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court. But he also told his fellow Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission several times that he was concerned about the timeline for the primary.

There had been a suggestion in federal court that a legislative primary or the full primary could be held on May 24. Ohio Association of Elections Officials executive director Aaron Ockerman said that date isn’t feasible.

“I've had some counties tell me this morning, 'hey, if the legislature came back in emergency session, you know, today and they said, do one primary on May 24th, we can make it happen'," said Ockerman. "Other boards have said 'we're just too far down the planning process - we just have to move forward with May 3rd and then figure out figure out something else'."

LaRose said lawmakers would need to vote Friday to stop overseas and military ballots from being mailed out on Saturday. Otherwise, LaRose said statewide and congressional offices will be on the May 3 ballot, and legislative offices on August 2.

Meanwhile, Gov. Mike DeWine said he’s not sure what will happen with those races, or with the map drawing process in the future, though he said "no one is happy" that state legislative offices won't be on the ballot.

Like LaRose, DeWine voted for all the maps that have been ruled unconstitutionally gerrymandered. But he said Ohioans overwhelmingly voted for the constitutional amendment to change the map drawing process because it would create more competitive districts, and so that needs to be examined once this is all over.

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