COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans head to the polls Tuesday in one of the most unusual elections in history.
Instead of voting for all candidates and local issues in May, voters are going back to the polls in August due to protracted legal battles over redistricting maps.
"What happened this year [was that] our elected officials were put through the wringer," said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R).
The number of people who vote in Tuesday's election could be one of the lowest in history, especially considering many people are off on summer vacation.
On top of that, in Franklin County, only 11 of the 39 races are contested.
10TV looked at some of the lowest voter turnouts in Franklin County primaries.
- The lowest turnout happened in 2013 with 4% of eligible voters turning out.
- The next lowest was in May 2017 with a 6% turnout, which was followed two years later with a 7% turnout.
As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, Franklin County said 7,338 absentee ballots were issued, of those, 4,204 were returned.
When asked if there is a dark cloud over this election because the maps of the Ohio Redistricting Commission failed to get approval by the Ohio Supreme Court, LaRose said, "I don't think so."
LaRose, who sat on the commission defended the actions of the commission.
"We fulfilled what we felt was our constitutional responsibility to draw fair maps and we drew the exact number of districts they told us to," he said. "The court mandated a certain number of districts that don’t appear in the constitution but the court took it upon itself to draw no more than 56 Republican districts and no more than 45 Democratic districts for the Ohio House of Representatives and we did that."
That map approved for this election guarantees Democrats two victories, but Republicans are either assured wins or have a shot in the remaining 13.
The same maps will be used in November.
"Voters in November will decide who will be on the Ohio Supreme Court and who will be on the Ohio Redistricting Commission. Once the voters make their decisions, there could be a different composition on both of those bodies and it will be up to draw up new maps for 2024," said LaRose.
10TV also investigated the number of rejected absentee ballots over the past few years.
Here’s the data from Primary 2020- Primary 2021:
- November 2021 and May 2022 have not been processed yet.
- May 2021 – 74,443 counted; 75,039 cast – 99.2% acceptance rate (0.8% rejected)
- November 2020—3,503,169 counted; 3,512,374 cast—99.7% acceptance rate (0.3% rejected)
- March 2020 – 1,810,486 counted; 1,831,640 cast – 98.4% acceptance rate (1.6% rejected) NOTE: Primary Election Day was by mail due to COVID orders.
According to the Franklin County Board of Elections, between 5% to 10% of absentee ballots that are requested are not returned.