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Governor's Race, Redistricting Among Ohio's Primary-Day Decisions

Supporters say Issue 1 would create fair Congressional Districts that keep communities together. (M. Kuhlman)
Supporters say Issue 1 would create fair Congressional Districts that keep communities together. (M. Kuhlman)
May 8, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Primary elections do not draw as many voters as the general election, but election rights groups are hopeful that is not the story for today's May Primary in Ohio.

Not only will voters choose candidates for several statewide offices, including an open seat for governor, but a redistricting proposal is also on the ballot that would curb gerrymandering in the state.

Issue 1 would create a bipartisan process for drawing Congressional districts that League of Women Voters of Ohio executive director Jennifer Miller says would keep communities together, resulting in more compact districts.

"Anyone can look at the existing congressional district map and realize that it just isn't making sense," she says. "This ballot initiative paves the pathway for the construction of more fair districts, and when our democracy is fair, we all win."

Those against Issue 1 argue the current process is adequate, and note that while it allows for one-party control, voters can always hold their elected representatives accountable if they believe the process is too partisan. Issue 1 is the only statewide issue that will be on both the Democratic and Republican primary ballots and is endorsed by both parties.

Six Democrats and two Republicans are vying for spots in the governor's race, and Republican voters will decide who will run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in November.

According to the Secretary of State's Office, about 17 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the last gubernatorial primary in 2014. Miller is hopeful today's turnout will be better.

"Primary elections are always key," she notes. "It's where you get to select the representatives of the party that you are affiliated with but you don't have to vote for either party. You can go as an independent and just select the issues."

Across 83 Ohio counties, 479 local issues will be decided. Polls are open until 7:30 P.M. As of last night, more than 300,000 absentee ballots had been requested and 260,000 voters had cast their ballots.

This collaboration is funded in part by Media in the Public Interest and the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH