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Government/Politics

Low voter turnout likely for high-profile Ohio primary for U.S. Senate, governor

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Andy Chow
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Secretary of State Frank LaRose, at a press conference at the Franklin County Board of Elections in 2019

Around a million and a half voters are likely to turn out for today’s primary election in Ohio based on the last 36 years. An average of less than a quarter of registered voters have come to the polls in Ohio’s midterm primary elections.

And on primary election day, there have been some issues, but no major concerns.

Of the 263,000 early ballots cast, 54% were Republican requested ballots, 45% Democratic.

Some polling places opened late and there were some other problems, says Secretary of State Frank LaRose, but no one was turned away.

“There were issues in Cuyahoga County and Lucas County primarily with the electronic poll books that are used to check people in. At this point, those have been largely resolved as well," LaRose said.

Turnout may also be low because of some voter confusion.

This primary ballot contains races for statewide office, including as US Senate, governor and Ohio Supreme Court chief justice. It also includes 15 congressional races, based on a map that was approved in March and is under review by the Ohio Supreme Court.

But there are no races for Ohio House and Senate, because there are no legal maps for those districts. The justices have struck down maps submitted by Republicans on the Ohio Redistricting Commission four times. The Commission is set to meet Wednesday to start a fifth attempt at maps. But a federal court has ruled if no maps have been approved and upheld by May 28, the judges will impose the third set of maps, which were ruled unconstitutional in March. Another primary will be held for those legislative districts, most likely on August 2.

LaRose has been criticized for endorsing and campaigning with Republican candidates, including accepting former president Trump's endorsement, endorsing Trump-backed US Senate candidate JD Vance and campaigning with Trump's former advisor Max Miller, who's running for Congress. Miller and incumbent US Rep. Bob Gibbs would have faced each other in the 7th District, but Gibbs announced last month he wouldn't run again, blaming redistricting. LaRose is on the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

When asked if he's been partisan as Ohio’s chief elections official, LaRose replied: "Absolutely not".

In his primary, LaRose has claimed voter fraud is a problem, and last month he tweeted out: "Ohio's become THE leader for election integrity. But that can all become undone if the Democrats win."

LaRose's office said there were 27 possible voter fraud cases out of 5.9 million votes cast in November 2020.

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