COLUMBUS — Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose directed Ohio’s 88 county boards of elections to begin taking the necessary steps to place candidates for the General Assembly and state party Central Committees on the May 3 primary ballot. The order follows the adoption last week of new state House and Senate district plans by the Ohio Redistricting Commission.
“The General Assembly has the legal authority to set the time, place, and manner of our elections, and they’ve made it clear that the state House and Senate contests will be placed on the May 3 ballot,” said LaRose. “I’ve also communicated to the legislative leaders the risks associated with rushing this process. Elections officials across Ohio are concerned about the compressed timeline for candidate certification, ballot preparation and the programming and testing of voting equipment. These are serious concerns, but our directive is clear, and we will work tirelessly with Ohio’s bipartisan election professionals to achieve it, delivering the secure, accessible election Ohioans expect and deserve.”
Senate President Matt Huffman and House Speaker Robert Cupp sent a letter to LaRose on Thursday, Feb. 24, reiterating the General Assembly’s order to include legislative contests on the May 3 primary ballot. The letter states the following:
“…We are providing your office with the underlying information for the newly adopted plan, including the shape files.
“Please immediately transmit the relevant information to all the state’s boards of elections as you deem appropriate so that the necessary preparations may be made for carrying out the primary election on May 3, 2022.”
In response, LaRose on Saturday provided the county boards of elections with the new district data necessary to fulfill that directive, along with instructions to do the following:
• Take immediate action to reprogram their voter registration system by incorporating the updated district borders;
• Follow updated procedures for filing and signature validity for General Assembly races; and
• Follow updated procedures for filing and signature validity for state political party central committee races.
The directive also gives clear guidance for candidates who wish to file petitions to run for the U.S. House of Representatives. Those candidates may file in the most populous county of the district they seek to represent, as established by Senate Bill 258. If the most populous county changes after passage of a new district plan by the Ohio Redistricting Commission, the board of elections where the candidate previously filed will transfer the filing documents to the new most populous county board of elections in the district. The filing deadline for congressional candidates is set in law for Friday, March 4th.
Additionally, LaRose submitted a waiver request to the United States Department of Defense, seeking more time to prepare and deliver ballots to military voters and their families serving overseas (under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act). That waiver request can be read here.
“As I told the legislative leaders, I’m very concerned that the compressed timeline of this election will impact the ability of our boards of elections to get these ballots by March 18,” said LaRose. “As a combat veteran myself, I know what it’s like to cast a ballot from the battlefield, and I’m determined to make sure these delays back home don’t deprive our brave men and women a vote. I’m confident the Defense Department will work with us to mitigate these unprecedented circumstances.”
LaRose also announced that he is working with the General Assembly to secure additional funding for county boards of elections who will experience unbudgeted personnel and supply costs to comply with the new directive. The specific amount of the funding request is still under consideration.
LaRose will continue to work with the extraordinary bipartisan election officials from across the state to provide whatever support they need to accomplish their mission of executing a secure, accurate, and accessible primary election on May 3.