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Two Votes, Too Many? Ohio's 12th District Must Pick Twice For Congress

Poll workers at the Franklin County Elections Board handing voters their ballots.
Nick Evans
Poll workers at the Franklin County Elections Board handing voters their ballots.

As May 8's primary election draws near, the Franklin County Board of Elections is churning through a steady stream of early voters. But for those who reside in Ohio's 12th Congressional district, Tuesday's ballot will be a bit more complicated than usual.

About a fifth of Franklin County's registered voters fall in the 12th District, where Pat Tiberi’s early resignation prompted a rollicking, 18-candidate primary. Tuesday’s election will determine which candidates represent their party in November’s general election, but there’s also a special election to decide who takes over for Tiberi in the interim.

“We have to fill the remaining term of the person who left, and then have an election for the new term which will commence next year,” explains Franklin County elections board spokesperson Aaron Sellers.

That means the 12th District Congressional race will appear on voters’ ballots twice.

“The special Congressional primary ballot to nominate candidates to run to fill the unexpired term will appear first,” Sellers says. “The official primary ballot appears after that, and is used to nominate candidates for the regular election."

The elections board is saving significantly by combining the special primary with the normally scheduled primary election. The final vote on who serves out the remainder of Tiberi’s term will be held August 7, and the winner will serve through December.

Then, on November 6 voters will reconvene in the general election to vote for the next Congressional term. That winner will begin serving in January.

Conceivably, a candidate could win the race for Tiberi’s vacancy but not the coming year’s term. Sellers says that, considering the time it takes to finalize the vote, that wouldn’t be much left for lawmaking.

"It could take 21 days" to certify the August 7 election, Sellers says. “So the person that wins that will only be in Congress for September, October, November - four months. Which is interesting."

On the Republican side of the contest, 10 candidates will appear on the ballot

  • John Adams
  • Kevin Bacon
  • Troy Balderson
  • Lawrence Cohen
  • Jon Halverstadt
  • Tim Kane
  • Melanie Leneghan
  • Pat Manley
  • Carol O’Brien
  • Mick Shoemaker, Jr.

All have filed for the interim post and the full term, except for Adams, who is only running for the full term. There are also seven Democrats running to replace Tiberi.

  • Ed Albertson
  • Danny O’Connor
  • Jackie Patton
  • John Peters
  • John Russell
  • Zach Scott
  • Doug Wilson

Peters has only filed for the full term, but the other six Democrats will appear on both ballots. 
Outside the major parties, Joe Manchik is running unopposed for the Green Party nomination.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.