Results of redistribution turmoil in Tuesday’s special election

WAPAKONETA — Michelle Wilcox won’t be enjoying elephant ears and corndogs at the Oglais County Fair this week.

Instead, the directors of the Oglais County Board of Elections will run a primary election that also shouldn’t have happened in August. Their largest polling place will not open at the fairgrounds, where it has been for years. Most of their voters are not even in the representative district of the same state where they have been for 10 years.

“Oglais County was fortunate enough to be one of the counties that was divided (in redistribution),” Wilcox said. “This has really created voter confusion. Even in the May 3 election, we had voters in these castes to vote. I think it all just leads to voter confusion.

“You don’t know which district you’re in. They get flyers from candidates, then they come here hoping to vote for a certain candidate. And maybe because of redistribution it’s not their district.”

Redistribution has been the gift it keeps on giving to weary election workers. The good news is that election officials in the region say they are up for it, even though most are expecting only 20% turnout.

“We do just as much work to make something like this happen, and we want people to take advantage of that and vote,” said Allen County Board of Elections director Cathy Meyer.

In-person voting is open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., although people can still vote in county board elections from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays. can do. As of Friday, 1,905 ballots in five area counties had already been cast in person or via mail-in absentee voting.

“Ohio is a national leader in making voting accessible and convenient, while maintaining security throughout the process and delivering accurate, audited results,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank Larose said in a press release. “Whether Ohioans choose to vote in person, by mail-in absentee ballot, or at their polling place on Election Day, each of these options makes it easy and inclusive to participate in our democratic process.”

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how did we get here

In case you missed it, here’s a short story about why there are statewide elections in August: Ohio redistributes its state and federal representatives every 10 years after each U.S. census. A new redistribution commission put together several plans, which were rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court for not being balanced enough. A federal court has finally ruled that the people of Ohio must vote in 2022 with the maps originally approved by the State House and Senate, despite the map being declared unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

By the time all this happened, it was too late to put those races on the May ballot. Instead, voters have a rare August primary to choose who can represent them in the Ohio House and Senate.

Adding to the confusion, the region has only two incumbents in the four House districts. And one of them, Susan Manchester, shifts her district largely north into Allen County, where voters vote for her or Dr. J. J. Srinan as Republican to replace House Speaker Bob Kup in November. I will choose Due to the time limit, Cupp cannot play again.

Voters can also elect their party’s representatives to the State Central Committee. A Senate district is on the ballot, Robert McCauley’s first district (all Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert and Williams counties and parts of Oglais, Fulton and Logan counties), but he is unopposed in the primary and common. Election.

move things around

Additional elections have had their share of obstacles.

Auglaize County traditionally had its largest polling place at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds. With rides, food, and agricultural displays during county fairs, that’s not an option. Those voters will have to go to The Grand Plaza, 913 Defense St., Wapakoneta instead. There will be signs in the fairgrounds directing people to the new site, just in case.

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Allen County was able to secure similar sites, just different locations. The polling place at Allen East High School will now be in the small gym. One of the Shawnee Alliance churches went into the activities building across the street. Spencerville went to another high school in the schools.

Officials said voters in Putnam and Van Wert counties will be able to vote at their regular polling stations.

an expensive challenge

Fortunately, the area’s counties are not projected to lag economically because of the election. The state gave a total of $632,000 to run elections in Allen, Auglaise, Hardin, Putnam, and Van Wert counties. It will help pay for supplies, staffing and overtime needed to run Tuesday’s election.

Chelsea Clark, the Democratic nominee for secretary of state in November’s election, said that’s not much consolation for taxpayers who funded those state grants.

“It’s simple. We’re holding an election on August 2, which will cost taxpayers $20 million or more in this state, and Frank LaRose is responsible,” Clarke said in a press release. “Not getting work drove the taxpayer tab to another $9 million in May. And Frank LaRose is spending more than $300,000 on self-promotional public service announcements as he tries to fully inform voters of this particular election. Had relinquished his initial duties. Rest the taxpayers!”

The situation could have been worse at the local level. The counties here waited for federal rule before printing the May ballots. Some counties had already printed theirs before the May election, meaning they had to toss.

“We were given more than $169,000 for this special election that we can use for this election at any cost,” the Allen County mayor said. “The legislators have given this money, and we will be able to use it for election worker salaries, ballots, everything related to this election.”

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finding volunteers

It has always been a challenge to pair a Democrat and a Republican at each polling place to keep elections fair. With the August election came a new enemy: the holidays.

“A lot of people are on vacation in August,” said Putnam County Board of Elections director Karen Warnke. “I don’t know if it was really that hard. I just had to jot down the list, you know? If people were on vacation, you keep going down the list until it’s full.”

Unless someone gets sick, there are enough poll workers to hold elections in all area counties. Have some backups in place, just in case.

“We always get low runs on these, especially since there are predominantly Republicans here,” said Pam Henderson, director of the Van Wert County Board of Elections. “It’s hit and miss with people who may be on vacation, sick, probably won’t be able to help but work in November.”

tired workers

The biggest price may be in the enthusiasm of the election workers. The August election is cutting back on the time he must work into November’s general election, which covers federal and statewide issues and local issues.

“People think we only work two days a year,” said Wilcox of Oglais County. “Right now, with this election, we have an average of 200 extra hours. We are working 11-, 12-hour days right now. If we have provisions that voters need to fix, we’ll actually be working 20-straight days. ,

“I guess what I’m saying is that we probably aren’t going to the fair this year.”

Results of redistribution turmoil in Tuesday’s special election

Reach David Trinkow at 567-242-0467 or on Twitter @lima_trinko,

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