SCIOTO — Ohio’s May 3 primary is now less than two months away and the clock is running.
Due to several factors, the possibility that the primary will take place on that first Tuesday of the month is diminishing. The Republican-led Ohio Redistricting Commission has submitted multiple maps that the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional, stating the maps adopted by the commission do not meet voter-approved provisions of the state constitution to reduce partisan political gerrymandering. In essence, the revised maps continue to favor the Republican Party and are not proportionate to statewide voter preferences.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, Ohio lawmakers convened for an unscheduled session because the Buckeye state asked the federal government to waive the requirement that overseas voters have access to their ballot 45 days before the May 3 primary because several local Boards of Election will not have ballots ready in time to send to overseas voters by the March 18 deadline. The federal government denied the request, so state senators were forced to extend the deadline that would be applicable to only those overseas voters, such as those in the military.
The Ohio Supreme Court has yet to rule on the latest submission by the Redistricting Commission.
What is certainly a mess at the state level is under control here, according to the Executive Director of the Scioto County Board of Elections, Julia Gearhart. She says her office is ready to go and has been since day one.
“On Feb. 24, the Ohio Redistricting Commission did pass a Third General Assembly map and we did receive a directive from Secretary of State Frank La Rose telling us to go forward with the process. There could still be some changes on that, but as for now, the date of the primary election remains May 3,” Gearhart said. “There are several possibilities still in play; it’s possible the date of the primary could be moved and it’s also a possibility we could have two primaries and it’s possible all of this can be settled in the court and will keep the May 3 date.”
Gearhart gave a closer look into how the redistricting proposal currently under review could affect our region.
“We are fortunate here in Scioto County, we did not have a lot of big changes-we lost the 6th Congressional District, we are the most populous in the 90th District, with Lawrence County falling out of the 90th, but parts of Brown County are now included in the 90th House District. So, it’s not a big change for our county, but a lot of other counties across the state are going to change quite a bit.”
The Scioto County Board of Elections is definitely on top of it.
“A number of county Board of Elections are still struggling to get this done before May 3, but we are definitely ready.”
The problem, though, is that if one county isn’t fully ready, it will affect all of Ohio’s 87 other counties-meaning, it’s all or nothing as far as maintaining a one day, May 3 primary is concerned.
“I know the Secretary of State is trying to get some of the deadlines changed so this will all happen on time, but there are several governing bodies this must pass through, so we are going to prepare for any eventuality,” Gearhart commented.
La Rose backed that up Tuesday, saying, “The state of Ohio is now on a very compressed timeline with a couple of months’ worth of work to do in just a couple of weeks. We have to really get moving to make sure Ohio’s local Boards of Elections have a chance to get this done and I believe we will get it done for the May 3 date to hold but it’s going to take every single day to get that accomplished.”
Reach The Daily Times at (740) 353-3101 or by email at [email protected]
© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved