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County poll workers striving to make primary election 'normal'

Voters fill out their ballots at the Hamilton County Board of Elections on the first day of early voting, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in Cincinnati.
John Minchillo
Associated Press

Despite the uncertainty involving the state’s redistricting process, early voting begins Tuesday for candidates not affected by statewide districts.

The Franklin County Board of Elections is trying to make the primary as normal as possible, said Aaron Sellers, public information officer for the board of elections.

“The hope is that voters that come in to vote beginning on Tuesday here at the board or requesting an absentee ballot or going to the polls on May 3, will just go in and it will be like a normal primary,” Sellers said.

To participate in the election, new voters, voters new to Ohio, and voters who have moved or had a name change should register before the 9 p.m. Monday deadline, Sellers said.

Beginning 8 a.m. Tuesday, voters can vote early at the board of elections, 1700 Morse Road, or use an absentee ballot to make selections in the May 3 primary.

“Anything that’s general assembly related, whether that be the Ohio House or the Senate, or central committee state positions, those will not be on the May 3 ballot,” Sellers explained. “What will be on there are county judge and court of appeals races, primaries for the auditor’s office, for the commissioners, and then depending on where you live in the county, local issues and levies.”

With the fate of redistricting maps still up in the air, Sellers said a date for the second primary has not been set. He said the primary should be held before August 2 to avoid interference with the November general election.

“It’s been interesting, the stops and starts and all the things, and we’re just as anxious as regular voters and citizens about what’s going to happen and obviously there’s still some uncertainty,” he said.

Sellers said it typically costs between $1 million and $2 million to hold an election in Franklin County, and the cost of the extra election is expected to fall in the same range.

The board waited to print ballots until the state issued guidance, so ballots did not have to be reprinted to accommodate the division of the elections, Sellers said. And, because the board uses an onsite, county print shop to create the ballots, the delay was easily handled, Sellers said.

This round of early voting will be open on weekdays until 5 p.m. beginning Tuesday, and as the election moves closer, hours of availability will be extended.

Visit the Franklin County Board of Elections website for a full list of voting times, to request an absentee ballot and other services, like a sample ballot. The Franklin County Board of elections website as well as the Ohio Secretary of State website will include the most updated information regarding the May 3 primary election and the second primary that will be held for the general assembly and central committee primary.

Visit WOSU's 2022 Voter Guide for more information on how to vote and a rundown of what you can expect on your ballot.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.