Why and How did Ohio’s March 17, 2020 Primary Election get so confusing and frustrating? Not only for the election officials scheduled to work the polls on Tuesday, but also for all of Ohio’s voters. One elected official and one candidate started the ball rolling Monday afternoon with everything snowballing from there. Check out the history of Ohio’s 2020 Primary.
HISTORY: ACTIONS TAKEN
On Monday, March 16, 2020, the evening before Ohio’s Primary Election on Tuesday,March 17, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Ohio Director of Health Dr. Amy Action ordered the closing of all Ohio polling locations which effectively *SUSPENDED* the Primary Election. Meanwhile and also on Monday, Republican State Representative Jason Stephens (District 93) and Corey Speweik, a Republican Wood County judicial candidate, filed lawsuits to HALT the Primary Election and to have only those mailed-in ballots cast to be counted and to call the winners of all races based on those mailed-in ballots. Thus, the Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Monday to preserve the Primary Election and ensure all Ohioans’ have the opportunity to vote.
Governor Mike DeWine (R) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced to the media, Ohioans and everyone across the United States that the new election day would be Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Unfortunately, this announcement was made before a judge in Franklin County had made his decision.
On Monday evening, Franklin County Judge Richard A. Frye, ruled he ‘was uncomfortable making an 11th-hour decision to delay the election, especially since state officials couldn’t say June would be any safer, and since many voters had expected the election would be on Tuesday.’ In addition, Ohio’s Constitution states clearly that only the Ohio General Assembly can change election dates.
The Ohio Supreme Court then reviewed the lawsuits into early Tuesday morning – Election Day – and denied the legal challenge to the state delaying the primary. Only four of the seven Ohio Supreme Court Justices participated in the decision: Justices Judith French (R) and Sharon Kennedy (R) are seeking re-election and Justice Patrick DeWine (R) is Governor Mike DeWine’s son.
In the meantime, the Ohio General Assembly met in session the following week and legally set the extended Primary Election date by passing House Bill 197; thus, the Ohio Primary Election has now been extended for voting by mail only through April 28, 2020.
Directives issued by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose pertaining to Ohio 2020 Primary Election:
- Directive 2020-07: House Bill (“H.B.”) 197 and Additional Instructions
- Directive 2020-06: Order from Director of Health Dr. Amy Acton Closing Polls for the March 17, 2020 Presidential Primary Election (PDF)(opens in a new window) (rescinded)
- Directive 2020-05: Unforeseeably Confined or Hospitalized Voters, Curbside Voting, and Best Practices for the March 17, 2020 Election in Response to Coronavirus/COVID-19 (PDF)(opens in a new window) (rescinded)
- Directive 2020-04: Unofficial and Official Canvasses of the March 17, 2020 Primary Election (PDF)(opens in a new window) (rescinded)
- Directive 2020-03: Polling Locations at Residential Senior Citizen Facilities (PDF)
The following are updates from Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper:
- Ohio Democratic Party Takes Legal Action to Preserve Primary Election and Protect Ohioans’ Right to Vote | 3.17.2020
- Ohio Democratic Party Statement on Status of Primary Election | 3.17.2020
- Ohio Democratic Party – Statement/Update | 3.20.2020
The following is a statement from Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes:
The following is a news release from ODCCA President Janet Carson and communication to the Ohio Legislature:
- News Release – ODCCA | 3.23.2020
- Communication to Legislators – ODCCA | 3.23.2020
- Ohio Democrats, GOP lawmaker challenge LaRose authority to set new primary date | The Columbus Dispatch | 3.17.2020
- Coronavirus: Ohio Supreme Court allows delay to primary election | The Columbus Dispatch | 3.17.2020
- Householder now says Ohio lawmakers will return next week to ‘legally’ set new primary date | The Columbus Dispatch | 3.17.2020
- Democrats challenge LaRose’s election postponement in State Supreme Court | Ohio Capital Journal | 3.18.2020
- The Ohio Primary Election is postponed. Now what? | Ohio Capital Journal | 3.18.2020
- Ohio voting rights groups: Registration deadline must move with primary date | The Columbus Dispatch | 3.18.2020
- Sherrod Brown has ‘mixed feelings’ about Ohio election postponement | Ohio Capital Journal | 3.18.2020
- Misstatements from LaRose’s office sparked elections eve chaos in Ohio | The Columbus Dispatch | 3.19.2020
- Ohio Primary FAQ: Everything you need to know to cast your ballot | Ohio Capital Journal | 3.26.2020
- Some groups are educating Ohio voters about the primary voting system. Others are fighting it. | Ohio Capital Journal | 4.01.2020
- Judge rejects voter rights groups’ lawsuit to postpone Ohio primary further | Ohio Capital Journal | 4.07.2020
**EXTENDED** Primary Election Day
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
House Bill (“H.B.”) 197 and Additional Instructions (PDF)
Deadline for Voter Registration for Primary Election:
Tuesday, February 18, 2020 remains the voter registration deadline
NO IN-PERSON VOTING
There will be NO In-person Voting on April 28, 2020.
Note: There will be very limited exceptions
to this for those needing special assistance only.
Please contact your local county board of elections
for additional information.
VOTE BY MAIL
If you have already voted early or voted by mail based
on the March 17th date and returned your ballot back
to your local county board of elections,
your ballot will count for the
Primary Election – Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
If you requested your ballot by mail, received it, but have not
returned it back your local county board of elections,
there are several options on how to return your ballot to be counted.
See instructions below on options to return ballots.
If you have not voted yet, to vote by mail for the
Primary Election – Tuesday, April 28, 2020,
you MUST request and complete an Absentee Ballot Application.
IMPORTANT SECTION 6 INFORMATION:
Remember the acceptable dates to fill in of the Extended Primary are
March 17, 2020 or April 28, 2020.
Remember to fill in the political party ballot – Democratic.
To print out the Absentee Ballot Application, please visit here.
You may call your local county board of elections to have
an Absentee Ballot Application mailed to you.
OPTIONS TO RETURN YOUR APPLICATION
Your application may be mailed to your local county board of elections.
Or call your local county board of elections to find out
where a dropoff box may be located.
A dropoff box must be provided outside 24/7
per Directive 2020-07 and HB 197.
Your Absentee Ballot Application request to vote by mail must be
received no later than 12noon on Saturday, April 25, 2020.
OPTIONS TO RETURN YOUR BALLOT
Once you receive your ballot in the mail and vote it,
your ballot may be returned by mail via U.S. Postal Service
your local county board of elections
postmarked no later than Monday, April 27, 2020 AND
arrive at your local county board of elections no later than May 8, 2020.
A postage-paid envelope will be provided for you to return your ballot.
NOTE: It is recommended that you take your ballot envelope
into the Post Office to have the clerk manually postmark the envelope.
If the envelope is not properly postmarked
your ballot will not be counted.
NOTE: The U.S. Post Office estimates it could take 2-5 days each
for applications and ballots to be mailed to voters.
Give yourself plenty of time to receive your ballot!
Please call your local county board of elections
to find out where a dropoff box for ballots may be located.
A dropoff box must be provided outside 24/7
per Directive 2020-07 and HB 197.
If you decide to dropoff your ballot, it must be received
no later than 7:30pm on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
CHECK YOUR BALLOT REQUEST & BALLOT STATUS
Did you request, vote and mail your ballot back
to your local county board of elections?
Check your ballot application and ballot status
with your local county board of elections.
NO In-Person Voting on
Primary Election Day, Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
If you want to vote in the 2020 Primary Election,
you MUST vote by mail.
**Please be aware of deadlines!**
If you should have any questions, please contact your
local county board of elections.
Are you interested in being a Precinct Election Official?
Please visit here for more information
or call your local county board of elections.