Ohio are set to choose their next governor, U.S. senator, and three seats for the state supreme court this election cycle.
The big-ticket race in Ohio is to fill the U.S. Senate seat left open by retiring Senator Rob Portman (R-OH). Republican nominee J.D. Vance was endorsed by former President Donald Trump and he is currently in a tight race with Democratic Representative Tim Ryan (D-OH-13).
Ohioans are also going to elect 15 representatives to the U.S. House. Some of those races are likely to re-elect an incumbent, but there are currently several close races: in Toledo, Democratic U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09) is running for re-election against political newcomer Republican J.R. Majewski; in the Akron-Canton area, Ohio Democrat State Representative Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) is running against Trump-endorsed Republican Madison Gesiotto Gilbert; in Cincinnati, Republican U.S. Representative Steve Chabot (R-OH-01) is in a contentious race against Democratic Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman.
Ohio has 17 state Senate seats and all 99 House seats available this November and, comparable to the congressional races, some of these are competitive and some are not. Republicans currently have supermajorities in both chambers.
Three of the locally contested races for the Ohio Senate feature State Senator Tina Maharath (D-Columbus) fighting Republican challenger Michele Reynolds to keep her seat representing Senate District 3, Democrat William DeMora is running for Ohio Senate against 24-year-old Army veteran and GOP candidate Chandler Wysocki, and Republican Andrew Brenner (R-OH) is in the Ohio Senate race for re-election against Democrat Heather Swiger.
In the Ohio House, Republican Omar Tarazi is running against Democrat Anita Somani, Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) is up against Dem contender Alissa Mayhaus, and Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) opposes Democrat Sam Lawrence.
In municipal and county races, Democrat incumbent Erica Crawley is running against Republican challenger Luis Gil for Franklin County Commissioner, GOP candidate Nan Baker is running against Democratic Patrick Kelly for Cuyahoga County Council, and Democrat Brigid Kelly is in competition with Republican Tom Brinkman Jr. for Hamilton County Auditor.
Tuesday, thousands of Ohioans will head to the polls between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to cast their votes in the midterm election. When the polls close and the secretary of state has confirmed every polling location as closed, county boards of elections will begin the tabulation of election results.
According to a statement from the Ohio secretary of state’s office, the office does not do any tabulation of votes. County boards will rather send the results of their tabulations to the Ohio secretary of state’s office via a secure fiber-optic connection.
According to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Ohio differs from the other 49 U.S. states by encouraging all county boards of elections to prepare absentee ballots for tabulation ahead of Election Day to allow for quick reporting when the polls close.
“The very first ballots that are counted are those early votes and the absentee voters,” LaRose said.
Even though polls close at 7:30 p.m., LaRose emphasizes that vote counts cannot start until all locations have closed allowing those in line by closing time to have a chance to cast their ballot.
According to the Ohio secretary of state’s office, election officials tally individual votes. Election workers tabulate ballots cast at a polling place by using scanning machines located onsite at the polling place. In the small number of jurisdictions that still use direct recording electronic (DRE) machines, votes are tabulated directly on the machines that voters use to make their selections. Each voting machine generates a “results tape” (which frequently resembles a cash register receipt). While the process varies by state (or even by jurisdiction), poll workers generally calculate the total votes on election night by summing the totals for each candidate and ballot measure from the individual tapes.
Election officials conduct a recount after an election either automatically when the margin of victory for a race was narrow, or because someone (usually the losing candidate or their party) asks for a recount. In the instance of a recount, the laws governing recounts vary by state. According to Ohio Revised Code, 3515.011, 3515.03, 3515.041 an automatic recount trigger will occur if the result is within the margin of 0.25 percent or less for the statewide office or issue and 0.5 percent for other offices. Election officials must complete a recount within 10 days after the declaration for a recount occurred.
If there is any disagreement as to how election officials should count a ballot, they submit the ballot to the members of the board who decide how much of the ballot to count. If three of the members disagree on how to count the ballot, they count the portions of the ballot all three can agree on. Officials make a notation on the ballot indicating what part they did not count. They put the ballot in an envelope marked “Disputed Ballots.”
Results will be posted on liveresults.ohiosos.gov, but they are all unofficial until the final official canvass is completed and the election is certified by LaRose within 20 days of the election.
According to a statement from the secretary of state’s office, Ohio will incorporate all valid early votes and absentee ballots that election officials received by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day into the unofficial results provided on election night.
Neither absentee ballots received after 7:30 p.m. nor provisional ballots will be included in the unofficial election results.
Election officials from each county must complete the official canvass including all voting, absentee ballots received within 10 days after the election, and any applicable provisional ballots by November 29, according to the statement. Once the official canvass is complete, the official results will be released.
The Ohio Secretary of State’s office says that it has backup protocols in place in the event of a website outage. This protocol will allow for the periodic posting of election results on ohiosos.gov. While the results will not appear as quickly in this scenario, they will continue to be accurate. “While a website outage might result in delayed reporting, it won’t impact the accuracy of election results,” LaRose emphasized.
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