A voter at a ballot maker machine. (Photo by Graham Stokes for the Ohio Capital Journal. Republish photo only with original story.)
The Ohio Supreme Court has ruled against the state secretary of state’s decision to disqualify six candidates from the Aug. 2 primary.
The candidates – William DeMora, Anita Somani, Elizabeth Thien, Leronda Jackson, Bridgette Tupes and Gary Martin – all filed their candidacy at least 90 days before the August election, therefore the 4-3 majority of the court ordered their candidacy accepted and certified.
There was confusion about official candidacy deadlines because of redistricting work being done over the last nine months, which included five different attempts by the Ohio Redistricting Commission to pass legislative maps. The legislative maps were rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court at every turn.
It wasn’t until a three-judge panel from a U.S. District Court intervened that the map that had been adopted by the ORC first in February, then two other times more recently, was chosen as the map that would dictate districts for the Aug. 2 primary. That primary will only have Statehouse races and central committee representatives. The other primary, including governor and congressional races, was held in May.
But Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the newest decision by the supreme court to add six Democratic names back into the fold for the August primary “shows blatant disregard for the hardworking, bipartisan election officials and the voters they serve day in and day out.”
He criticized the court for making the decision after absentee ballots had been sent to military and overseas Ohioans, and so close to the state of early voting.
“It’s clear by now that these four justices in the majority are either ignorant of election law and administration or indifferent to the confusion they continue to create,” LaRose said in a statement.
One of the four justices, Jennifer Brunner, is a former Ohio secretary of state, having served from 2007 to 2011.
In his directive to county boards of election, LaRose called the decision “disruptive to the process of election administration and no doubt confusing to the impacted voters,” but said election officials should work to “minimize the chaos” caused by the order.
The decision only impacts five counties: Franklin, Montgomery, Fairfield, Perry and Licking.
The five counties that were impacted were told to verify and validate the candidates, with protests against any candidates to be filed by noon on July 1.
Those counties will also need to send out supplemental ballots for overseas and military Ohioans, done under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
In-person absentee voting ballots must be ready by July 6.
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