Ohio House contest will not appear on May Primary ballot

By Blythe Alspaugh - [email protected]

SIDNEY — A directive issued by Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose Wednesday evening will impact the ballot on the May 3 primary in Shelby County.

The directive states that Ohio state and senate seats will not appear on the May 3 ballot. Because of this, boards of election across the state must reprogram their election databases and prepare ballots to be ready by April 5, without the offices of Ohio House, Ohio Senate or State Central Committee present on the ballot.

“In the wake of the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision last week invalidating the Feb. 24, 2022 General Assembly district plan, it is not possible to include the primary contests for the Ohio House, Ohio Senate, and State Central Committee on the May 3, 2022 Primary Election ballot,” LaRose wrote.

The most impact this has in Shelby County is on the 85th District House contest, in which Republicans Tim Barhorst, of Fort Loramie, Lilli Johnson Vitale, of Urbana, and Rochiel Foulk, of Urbana filed petitions that were certified by the Shelby County Board of Elections on March 14. Because the petitions were certified based on the Feb. 24 General Assembly disitrict plan, the board’s decision to certify the candidate petitions for the May 3 primary is null and void.

“This is the only currently lawful and reasonable option to continue to move forward toward the May 3, 2022 Primary Election at this unprecedented point in time,” LaRose stated in the directive.

The continuous delay in finalizing a district map has made it difficult for the Shelby County Board of Elections to meet their deadlines for the May 3 primary.

“It makes us feel like we’re under the gun, under a little pressure here. We have a limited time frame in which to get everything done,” Board of Elections Director Pam Kerrigan said. “We’ll have everything ready, because we’re able to do that in Shelby County, but that’s where we’re at now, just being under pressure because we have such a short time frame to get everything done.”

While nothing is official at the moment, Kerrigan said that she anticipates a special election in order to have the House contest on the ballot.

“That’s what we’re thinking that will happen, but we have no idea if that’s what will occur,” Kerrigan said.

The Shelby County Republican Party had arranged a candidate’s forum for the three 85th District candidates on Tuesday, March 22, that was postponed pending the redistricting map finalization. According to Shelby County Republic Party Chair Theresa Kerg, the party felt that the forum couldn’t be held until it was clear who the candidates running in the district would be.

“We have no idea who our state rep candidates are really going to be, because the maps keep changing. We had the candidate forum set up, assuming that our district was already most likely decided. When they pulled that, we had to cancel our forum until we have definite candidates,” Kerg said. “It’s just hard to keep going with campaigns for candidates we don’t know who they are.”

County-wide issues and contests will still appear on the ballot, and on that level, Kerrigan said everything is squared away for the primary.

“We’ll have ready what they tell us to put on the ballot, but we’re speculating that August is going to be another election for these races that aren’t going to take place here in May,” Kerrigan said.

Kerrigan added that voters can check the Shelby County Board of Election’s website at https://www.boe.ohio.gov/shelby/ for up-to-date election information or contact the board directly at 937-498-7207 with any questions.

By Blythe Alspaugh

[email protected]

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825

Reach the writer at 937-538-4825