Ohio registered voters can still cast ballots for the March 17 primary election, but they’ll only be able to do so by mail.
For the first time in Ohio, there will be no traditional, in-person “election day” voting in this cycle, according to legislation passed Wednesday by the Ohio House and Senate. The in-person voting that had been scheduled for March 17 was canceled via a state order amid fears of further spread of the coronavirus.
How to vote in the “March” primary
Residents who were not registered to vote by the Feb. 18 deadline are not eligible for this election.
Voters who already cast absentee ballots in the weeks before March 17 don’t need to do anything else, according to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office, as their votes will be counted as usual.
Any other registered voter who wants to cast a March primary ballot must complete the following steps, per LaRose’s office:
• Fill out an absentee ballot application (see below)
• Mail it to your county board of elections office.
• Wait for elections officials to mail you back the appropriate ballot
• Cast your votes on that ballot
• Mail it back to the board of elections, postmarked by April 27.
Absentee ballot application
Absentee ballot applications are available on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website, as well as each county board of elections website. Voters can also call their county elections board and ask for an application to be mailed to them.
LaRose had argued the state should mail an absentee ballot application to each voter. But the law that was passed Wednesday instead orders the Secretary of State to mail a postcard to each registered voter, explaining how to get that application. LaRose estimated those postcards will reach voters in the second week of April.
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On the absentee ballot application form, voters must specify they’re asking for a ballot for the March 17 primary. And because this is a political party primary election, voters will be asked whether they want a Republican ballot, a Democrat ballot, or an “issues-only” ballot.
Many party primary races are uncontested, with only one candidate on the ballot, making that person guaranteed to advance to the November general election. But other races have multiple candidates.
Contested Republican races
Most Dayton-area Republicans will vote on Congressional candidates, as incumbent Mike Turner is challenged by John Anderson and Kathi Flanders, and incumbent Warren Davidson is running against Edward Meer.
RELATED: Three Republicans battle for state senate seat
Ohio’s 6th district state senate seat, which represents most of the Montgomery County suburbs, is a contested primary, as incumbent Peggy Lehner can’t run again due to term limits. State representative races are contested in the 42nd, 43rd, 53rd and 73rd districts, which include parts of Montgomery, Greene, Preble and Butler counties.
Voters will also decide who advances to the November ballot for a few appeals court judgeships, and in several county races — Montgomery County commissioner and treasurer, Greene County prosecutor and clerk of courts, Miami County commissioner and sheriff, among others.
Contested Democrat races
The headline here was supposed to be a crowded presidential primary, with 11 candidates still listed on the ballot. Functionally, that race is now down to Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders after others withdrew.
All local Congressional primaries are contested on the Democratic side, as voters pick their finalists for November, trying to defeat Republicans who hold all of the region’s seats.
RELATED: Four challengers seek Turner’s Congressional seat
The 6th district state senate seat is a contested primary for Democrats, as is the 39th district state house race (Dayton, Jefferson Twp. and a few other jurisdictions). Montgomery County Democrats also will vote on two county commission primaries and a common pleas court judgeship.
Regardless of whether you take a Republican, Democrat or issues-only ballot, you’ll be able to vote on any tax levies your region might have.
High profile local issues include school levies in Troy, Bellbrook, Valley View and Beavercreek; taxes to fund police or fire/EMS services in Fairborn, West Carrollton and Pleasant Hill; and a sales tax increase in Greene County to pay for a new jail.
RELATED: Read about the tax levies on this ballot
How to get an absentee ballot
Fill out the application form at www.ohiosos.gov/elections/voters/absentee-ballot/
Or request one from your county board of elections:
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