New congressional maps to push back election deadlines

By: - November 19, 2021 12:35 am

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

Candidates for congressional elections won’t just see the impact of redistricting in their district lines. The deadlines for 2022 elections will also see changes with House passage of the GOP maps.

With no emergency clause attached to Senate Bill 258, the bill that was fast-tracked for passage of congressional redistricting lines, the effective date of the congressional maps would be 90 days after Gov. Mike DeWine signs the bill into law.

Even if DeWine signed the bill on Friday, the effective date would be well after the Feb. 2 deadline for U.S. House candidates to file petitions to appear on the primary ballot.

To accommodate the changes, the congressional primary election held on May 3 could have been moved, but according to Senate President Matt Huffman, legislators didn’t want to choose that option.

“Likely, the best fix of that is to pass legislation that will shorten the time period for the filing of congressional petitions,” Huffman said after the Senate passed SB 258 and moved the measure on to the House.

State Sen. Rob McColley echoed that sentiment in his presentation to a House committee on the maps the day they were approved for a full House vote.

Huffman said though it is a shortened timeline, it actually gives candidates who haven’t prepared their filings by the February deadline more time to submit their intent to run in the congressional primary.

In the language of the bill, the U.S. House candidate filing deadline would be moved to March 4, as well as any declarations of intent for write-in candidates. Write-in declarations are currently due on Feb. 22.

The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office would have to decide deadlines for filing protests to a candidacy, and certification of official ballots.

Currently, protests for official candidates are due by Feb. 18, and Feb. 25 for write-in candidates.

The SOS is set to certify forms for official ballots by Feb. 22 under the current schedule.

It’s unclear when or if a lawsuit will come up, but a court challenge could put pressure on the election filing deadlines, according to Collin Marozzi, of the ACLU of Ohio.

“However, as we saw for the state legislative lawsuits, the Ohio Supreme Court knows this is a contentious issue that needs finality before the next election, and they seem willing to put these cases on an expedited schedule in order to meet this challenge,” Marozzi said.

Marozzi said in SB 258, it seems Republicans “factored in enough time for a legal challenge to conclude” before the filings are due.

“Conceivably, the (Ohio) Supreme Court could issue an order pushing the filing deadline back even further if they find they’ll need more time to conclude any legal challenges, or for that matter, the primary date itself,” according to Marozzi.

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Susan Tebben
Susan Tebben

Susan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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