2020 Election: Ongoing live coverage in Ohio

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 03: Voters turn out at dawn and wait to cast their ballot at a polling station in the King Arts Complex on November 3, 2020 in Columbus, Ohio. After a record-breaking early voting turnout, Americans head to the polls on the last day to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

Follow along here as we update you throughout Election Day on what’s going on in Ohio. Polls are open today from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Unofficial results will start coming in after the polls close, though full results may not be known election night due to outstanding absentee and provisional ballots that will need to be counted.

Ohio boards of elections can start counting the official vote canvass on Nov. 14 and final official results and reports are due to the Ohio Secretary of State no later than 2 p.m. on Nov. 24. However, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose has directed boards to follow an “expedited” schedule, telling the 88 counties to begin their official canvass on Nov. 14 and finish counting by Nov. 18.

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4 weeks ago

12:12 am

GOP gains in Appalachian Ohio evident in 96th District flip

By: Tyler Buchanan

The 96th District in eastern Ohio has flipped from blue to red.

It was only two years ago that state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, had such a strong hold on Ohio’s 96th House District that Republicans decided not to put up a candidate.

Indeed, Cera ran unopposed in both 2016 and 2018 in the 96th District, which covers all of Jefferson and Monroe counties and part of Belmont County on Ohio’s eastern edge.

Term limits prevented Cera from running again in 2020. And Republicans have taken advantage.

With nearly all precincts reporting, the unofficial results on election night show a major win for the GOP in Cera’s seat. Republican Ron Ferguson has 66% of the vote to Democratic candidate Richard Olivito’s 31%.

Jefferson, Monroe and Belmont counties all went for President Donald Trump by sizable margins.

The 96th District is not the only Appalachian Ohio seat to flip from blue to red. Two others have flipped as well:

  • 63rd District, where incumbent Rep. Gil Blair, D-Weathersfield, lost to Republican challenger Mike Loychik by an unofficial count on election night of 54 to 46 percent. This district is in southern Trumbull County, which Trump also carried again in 2020.
  • 99th District, which also featured a term-limited Democratic incumbent in Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson. With all precincts reporting, Republican candidate Sarah Fowler Arthur defeated Democratic candidate Richard Dana by an unofficial margin of 59 to 41 percent. This district covers most of Ashtabula and part of Geauga counties in Northeast Ohio. Trump carried both counties in 2020.

4 weeks ago

10:10 pm

Householder-supported candidates appear on track to win

By: Tyler Buchanan

Rep. Larry Householder, R-Glenford.

Back in January 2020, then-Speaker of the Ohio House Larry Householder donated the maximum possible amount in support of six Republican legislative candidates.

Five of them won their Republican primaries and are competing in the General Election. All five appear to be on track to win their state representative seats: Marilyn John in the 2nd District; Tom Young (42nd District); Jean Schmidt (65th District); Brian Lampton (73rd District); and Brian Stewart (78th District). 

In July, Householder was arrested as part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery involving a nuclear bailout bill. Within days, the Ohio Capital Journal reported, three of the five candidates announced plans to donate or return Householder’s cash: John, Young and Stewart. 

Householder, still on trial for corruption, is up for re-election tonight in the 72nd District and appears poised to win against four write-in candidates.

4 weeks ago

8:42 pm

As expected, Biden takes early Ohio lead with absentee ballots

By: Tyler Buchanan

U.S. President Donald Trump and former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden speak during the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)

A swath of early absentee ballots have been tabulated in Ohio, with Joe Biden taking an early lead over Donald Trump here in the Buckeye State.

This was to be expected, as Democrats made up a disproportionate number of early voters with Republicans more apt to vote on Election Day.

More than 3 million votes have been tabulated as of 8:40 p.m., according to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office, with some precincts now beginning to report their results. Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced Monday there were 3.4 million early votes recorded, nearly all of which have been included in this early count. 

In the two Ohio Supreme Court races, Democratic challenger Jennifer Brunner leads Republican incumbent Justice Judi French by a percentage margin of 60 to 40, while Democratic challenger John O’Donnell and Republican incumbent Justice Sharon Kennedy are nearly tied.

We will have a better sense of these races and the slate of legislative contests as more results trickle in. You can follow the live results online here.

4 weeks ago

8:08 pm

Associated Press calls all 16 Ohio U.S. Congressional races for incumbents

By: David C. DeWitt

The U.S. Capitol Building. Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images.

The Associated Press has called all of 16 Ohio U.S. Congressional district races in favor of incumbents, both Republican and Democratic.

The AP has called the races in favor of incumbent Democratic U.S. Reps. Joyce Beatty, Marcy Kaptur, Marcia Fudge, and Tim Ryan, as well as Republican incumbents Steve Chabot, Troy Balderson, Dave Joyce, Jim Jordan, Bob Gibbs, Anthony Gonzalez, Bob Latta, Warren Davidson, Steve Stivers, Mike Turner, Brad Wenstrup, and Bill Johnson.

These largely represent Ohio’s least competitive districts, though since the last round of redistricting in 2011, no U.S. House seat in Ohio has flipped control from one party to the other.

Ohioans approved Congressional redistricting reform in 2018, a new process for drawing maps that will take place in 2021.

Last updated:12:05 am

4 weeks ago

6:44 pm

Ohio polls close in less than an hour

By: Tyler Buchanan

Pictured is the Franklin County Board of Elections drop box. Photo by Tyler Buchanan.

Polling places will close at 7:30 p.m., though Ohioans who are in line at that point can still vote no matter how many are waiting at that time. 

The same goes for absentee ballot drop boxes, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose confirmed Tuesday. Those in vehicles waiting to drop off their ballots can do so even if there is a line of cars at 7:30 p.m.

The first large batch of results should be announced by LaRose’s office shortly after 7:30 p.m. This is when all of the early votes that were processed to be counted ahead of time will be officially tabulated. 

That includes millions of early in-person votes, and mail-in votes received by elections boards as of today. 

From there, results will trickle in as poll workers close the precincts, pack up the equipment and return it to their respective county boards of elections offices. 

We’ll have an update with the first batch of results when the time comes a little after 7:30 p.m.

4 weeks ago

6:19 pm

Heavy early, absentee voting leads to (relatively) quiet Election Day

By: Marty Schladen

Voters line up at Gender Road Christian Church on Tuesday.
Photo by Susan Tebben

A glitch with electronic polling books led to morning lines at Franklin County polling places, but by late afternoon, things seemed to be running smoothly across the board.

Around 11 a.m. on a beautiful fall morning at the Schiller Park polling place in German Village, Brent Beatty had finished voting just as a line of about 20 diminished to almost nothing. He said he was voting on Election Day after running into massive lines to vote early at the Franklin County Board of Elections on Morse Road.

Beatty said he had voted a straight Democratic ticket as a reaction against President Donald Trump and a Republican Party that Beatty believes enabled him.

“Trump has left the country in a big mess,” he said, adding that he believed that Biden would unite the country.

At Gender Christian Church in Canal Winchester, lines moved quickly in the morning while elections officials announced that check-in was being done manually because of technological issues.

One Nepalese woman had just become an American citizen and was exercising her right to vote for the first time. Another woman said when the Franklin County Board of Elections sent erroneous ballots to about 50,000 voters, it made her nervous to vote any other way but in person.

Ohio House Rep. Richard Brown, D-Canal Winchester, wore a “Re-Elect Richard Brown” mask as he stood with his wife just outside the polling lines, handing out cards and answering questions from constituents. He said that in travelling the district, it was clear voter interest is up, and the tradition of in-person voting is still there.

“I know from past experience, there are just a lot of folks who prefer to vote on Election Day,” Brown said.

Brown said Gender Christian Church seemed to be doing well with a large volume of voters.

“It’s the largest (polling location) in my district, and one of the larger ones in Franklin County, so the fact that there’s not a line speaks very highly of the folks that are operating this particular location,” he said.

Around 4 p.m. at Hoffman Trails Elementary School in Hilliard, poll workers said the site had been busy early in the morning. By that point voters were trickling in and out.

As she emerged, Louise Vaselakes, 79, said she identifies as an independent and often splits her ticket. This year, however, the retired nurse said she was turned off by Trump’s divisiveness.

“I feel the Biden will unite us,” she said.

Last updated:7:09 pm

4 weeks ago

5:29 pm

How have the polls been today? Ohioans share their experiences

By: Tyler Buchanan

I asked Ohio Capital Journal readers on Twitter to share their experiences voting today. Here is a selection of responses:

OCJ reporters interviewed voters in more detail at various polling places today. A story with those perspectives is forthcoming.

4 weeks ago

4:57 pm

With polls still open, Columbus storefronts brace for impact

By: Jake Zuckerman

Andy Dolan applies a plywood covering to a storefront window at the Subway southwest of the Capitol. By Jake Zuckerman

As Ohio and the nation anxiously await election results, Columbus storefronts are battening down the hatches.

Lines of businesses, especially near the state Capitol where civil unrest erupted this summer amid racial justice protests, tacked plywood coverings over their windows.

On Capitol Square, extra guards are stationed outside the Statehouse building, while the westward entrance is fenced off.

Even the Ohio Chamber of Commerce building, directly across the street from the Capitol to the east, is boarded up. A spokeswoman for the organization could not be reached — an automatic reply from her email states she’s spending the day volunteering at the polls.

Mary McCord, legal director for the Georgetown University Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, has been monitoring the threat of political unrest or violence at the polls or on election night. Hearing about the boarded up windows left her unfazed.

“I’m not terribly surprised,” she said.

Last updated:5:01 pm

4 weeks ago

3:13 pm

LaRose: Today’s election results will be ‘accurate, but incomplete’

By: Tyler Buchanan

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose updates reporters on Election Day.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said Tuesday afternoon that voting had gone “smoothly” throughout most of the state to that point, and emphasized high early vote turnout headed into the 2020 General Election Day. 

Briefing reporters at the Ohio Statehouse, LaRose outlined the state’s plan for reporting results this evening. He noted tonight will be “an accurate, but incomplete number” — with the final totals to come in a few weeks’ time. 

Polls close at 7:30 p.m. After that, the state will announce results for the 3.4 million votes cast early in-person, by mail and through drop box. Over the course of tonight, results from the nearly 4,000 polling places will trickle in as normal. 

From there, the state will update on the number of outstanding absentee ballots. These are ballots requested by voters that have not been received by boards of elections as of today. 

The postmark deadline to have voted by mail was Monday. Elections offices can receive ballots through Nov. 13, so it’s anticipated there will be some remaining votes still to be counted after tonight. 

LaRose said his office was “very happy to see” that millions of Ohioans voted early, and called the milestone of 8 million voters registered in Ohio “another big success story.”

He outlined individual problems seen in certain counties and precincts throughout the state, noting these were unique situations and that most polling places have experienced no issues today.

Among the problems reported:

  • The Franklin County Board of Elections switched to paper voter check-in early this morning after officials discovered the electronic pollbooks were not uploading voter data correctly. LaRose said this has led to longer wait times in some polling places but that there’s no issue with the integrity of these ballots cast.
  • Voter machines went down in a Greene County polling place, but the equipment’s vender was able to fix them and they are back up and running.
  • A woman drove her car into a Miami County polling place, but reportedly no one was injured in the crash. LaRose said the person was able to cast their ballot before leaving the scene. 

LaRose emphasized numerous times that “every legally cast ballot will be counted” in Ohio and dismissed concerns that President Donald Trump or any other candidate would prematurely declare victory tonight. 

“What I’ll do is point to the facts,” LaRose said, pointing to his website that will offer live results tonight.

The website will offer updated counts of outstanding absentee votes plus not-yet-counted provisional votes cast at polling places on Tuesday. If the margin between candidates is larger than the number of ballots still to be counted, LaRose pointed out, any declaration will be easy to disregard. 

Last updated:4:11 pm

4 weeks ago

2:36 pm

Common Cause reports some lines, but generally smooth election in Ohio so far

By: David C. DeWitt

In this file photo Michelle Orengo-McFarlane looks for her name on a voter registration list. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images).

Lots of people are voting and there are lines ranging from 15 minutes to an hour, Catherine Turcer of Common Cause Ohio said during a media update at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.

Turcer said some of the lines are due to situations such as Franklin County having to move from electronic check-in for voters to paper pollbooks due to an overnight technical problem.

“We’ve been working with board of elections officials to see if there are ways we can help, and if there are places to send their roving teams to help with some of these issues,” she said.

While there have been reports of some folks doing “overly aggressive electioneering” near some polling locations, Turcer said nearly 200 clergy and social workers have been working throughout Ohio as elections peacekeepers to help diffuse any tense situations.

“Things are going very well,” she said. “And in Cuyahoga County it looks like they just hit 60% of registered voters casting ballots, which is very exciting.”

Turcer said that more than 700 phone calls have come into their election protection hotline.

“Clearly there have been some issues that we’re trying to address, but the day has gone smoothly,” she said.

On the call, other Common Cause leaders emphasized that a big task continues to be addressing election misinformation that’s being spread. They said they will continue to monitor and combat it.

Last updated:4:11 pm

4 weeks ago

12:25 pm

Sen. Brown: Biden campaign recognizes Ohio as ‘a state we can win’

By: Tyler Buchanan

Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, conceded that election night in 2016 was a low point for him and other Democrats throughout the country.

“I was pretty depressed and discouraged,” he told reporters Tuesday morning.

Democrats have waited four years to return to the voting booth with President Donald Trump now on the ballot again. Brown offered a similar take on Tuesday’s importance as others have in past election years.

“I think today is the most, probably the most important day in American history in my lifetime,” he said. “I’m not saying that with exaggeration or with any histrionics or hyperbole. The country is really at a crossroads.”

That’s quite a statement from an Ohioan who has been involved in many, many elections throughout his lifetime — as a candidate for various state and federal offices, along with overseeing the Ohio elections system as secretary of state from 1983 to 1991. 

He described feeling pleased with Joe Biden’s decision to visit Ohio one last time on Monday, swinging by Cleveland as part of a whirlwind tour of battleground states leading up to Election Day. 

“I think Biden’s people just recognize Ohio absolutely is a state we can win,” Brown said. 

Polls show Biden and Trump in a statistical tie as voters head to the polls today. The Capital Journal previewed the presidential race in Ohio, which you can read here.

Here’s a few other highlights from Brown’s talk with reporters: 

  • Brown predicted there would be one or two congressional flips in Democrats’ favor this cycle. As we’ve written, there are few close races expected among the 16 congressional races in Ohio this year (“They’re tough, gerrymandered districts,” Brown complained). The most contested race, Brown and political forecasters agree, looks to be in the 1st District between GOP incumbent Steve Chabot and Democratic challenger Kate Schroder. 
  • Brown remained critical of what he said were Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout in Ohio and elsewhere. “I think it backfires,” he added, pointing to the record number of early votes cast this cycle. 
  • Brown is not overly worried about efforts by Trump or others to prematurely proclaim victory on election night; he said reporters and “responsible people” will push back enough to let the ballot counting process continue. “The most important thing is all the votes are counted,” he said.

Last updated:4:11 pm

4 weeks ago

12:17 pm

Poll monitoring: No ‘massive’ intimidation, some problem locations

By: Susan Tebben

Voters line up at Gender Road Christian Church on Tuesday. Photo by Susan Tebben

Poll monitoring groups said Tuesday morning they were keeping an eye on a few locations across the state where small issues and voting technology “SNAFUs” have happened, but are not seeing organized voter intimidation.

Collin Marozzi of the ACLU said in a Tuesday morning Zoom call that observers in the field have reported issues at Maranatha Baptist Church in west Columbus and Oakmont Elementary in the east.

“We’re receiving reports of longer lines, limited capacity, limited access to voting machines, they’re moving to paper ballots,” Marozzi told reporters and other voter advocacy groups.

Delays have been seen at some Franklin County locations, according to Marozzi, but the ACLU wants to get a better idea of the impact of the delays.

Kayla Griffin of All Voting is Local said Cuyahoga County poll monitors have said some polling locations are indicating they don’t have curbside voting.

“That is not accurate,” Griffin said.

Jen Miller of the League of Women Voters said they have had some confusion, just as in every other election, but are not seeing “organized voter intimidation.”

“We’re not seeing massive intimidation, we’re not seeing massive violation of rights, we’re seeing little fires, SNAFUs, confusions that we need to deal with,” Miller said. “The great news is that we are on the scene and doing it.”

Voters can call the the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition to report polling location issues or ask questions:

English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA

Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US

Asian Languages: 1-888-API-VOTE

ASL (Video): 301-818-VOTE

Last updated:4:11 pm

4 weeks ago

12:00 pm

Election Day is finally here

By: Tyler Buchanan

Hello everybody! It’s been a long campaign season and we still have a long day ahead of us. Thanks for following along and, as always, for reading/supporting the Ohio Capital Journal.

A ballot drop box is seen outside the Athens County Board of Elections. Photo by Tyler Buchanan.

As I write this, we’re a little over 5 hours into voting here on Election Day. Millions of Ohioans have already voted early, and we’re expecting high turnout at the nearly 4,000 polling places throughout the state today. Polls and ballot drop boxes remain open until 7:30 p.m. 

Along with the presidential race, Ohioans are deciding on 115 separate legislative contests — 99 with the Ohio House of Representatives and 16 with the Ohio Senate. There are also two Ohio Supreme Court races and loads of down-ballot races for voters in all 88 counties. 

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is expected to give an update to reporters at 2 p.m., and I’ll be there to pass along important information to OCJ readers. 

Last updated:4:11 pm

4 weeks ago

8:43 am

Report: Franklin County switches to paper pollbooks after technical problems

By: David C. DeWitt

Franklin County made the decision to switch to paper pollbooks to check voters in overnight after a technical issue prevented the electronic pollbooks typically used from being properly updated, the Columbus Dispatch is reporting.

From the Dispatch’s Rick Rouan:

An updated electronic file containing data about who voted early was too large — a product of an unprecedented level of early voting in Franklin County — and could not be synced with the electronic poll books, said Ed Leonard, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections. …

That data is needed to ensure that voters who already cast ballots would not be allowed to cast another one, he said. Data is uploaded to the electronic poll books weeks in advance, but a last-minute update always is needed to account for the most recent data.

The switch to paper pollbooks for check-in will add a little bit of time to the voting process, officials said. The Dispatch reported that at the close of early voting, 350,982 people had cast early votes in Franklin County, either in person or via returned mail-in ballots. The county has about 833,000 registered voters.

Last updated:4:11 pm

4 weeks ago

8:08 am

Ohio Secretary of State reports 246,000 outstanding absentee ballots

By: David C. DeWitt

The Ohio Secretary of State is reporting 243,000 outstanding absentee ballots, reports WOSU’s Gabe Rosenberg. With the two presidential candidates polling neck-and-neck in Ohio, it’s possible the unofficial count will remain within that margin and Ohio will not know which candidate won the state this evening.

Voters may still drop absentee ballots off at county boards of election drop boxes until 7:30 p.m. tonight when polls close. Cars in line for drop boxes at 7:30 p.m. will be allowed to proceed to drop off ballots. So a number of absentee ballots are still likely to be returned today and may impact the margin.

Ballots must be post-marked by Nov. 2 and are allowed to be received in the mail by boards of elections until Nov. 13.

Last updated:4:11 pm

4 weeks ago

8:45 am

Election Day voting: What you need to know

By: David C. DeWitt

As Ohioans head to the polls today for in-person voting, here is information from the Ohio Secretary of State on what you need to know about casting your ballot.

Where do I vote?

On Election Day, you must cast your ballot in your precinct at your designated polling place between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. If you do not know where your designated precinct or polling place is located, please contact your county board of elections or click here to search for your polling place online.

How do I mark my ballot?

Instructions for marking and casting your ballot are posted in each polling place. If you have any questions about how to mark or cast your ballot, or if you have incorrectly marked a ballot, immediately contact a precinct election official for instructions before you continue.

May I receive assistance in voting?

A voter with a physical or mental disability, or a voter who is unable to read or write, may be assisted by anyone of the voter’s choice, except a candidate who appears on the ballot in that precinct, the voter’s employer or the employer’s agent, or an officer or agent of the voter’s union. A voter may also be assisted by two poll workers (each of a different political party). No one who assists a voter may disclose any information about how that person voted. For more information about access for voters with disabilities, please click here.

Will I need an ID to vote?

Yes. All voters must bring acceptable identification to the polls in order to verify their identity, though it does not have to be a photo ID. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of identification.

Last updated:4:11 pm