ballot box man
Ohio’s confusing ballot and election practices are causing some to ask if the election will be flawed. Above: A voter turns in an absentee ballot during the 2012 presidential election. REUTERS/Scott A. Miller

On March 15, voters will be faced with a ballot that shows them offers them two separate boxes to select a presidential candidate. Like a fake jean pocket or a cabinet that doesn’t open, one of the squares on Ohio primary ballot is totally meaningless and is just there to confuse people looking for something useful. The first area lists options for an at-large delegate. The second option area lists options for a district delegate. What’s the difference? Only the delegates-at-large will be counted, explains GOP spokesperson Brittany Warner.

The confusing ballot has voter advocacy groups up in arms. American Policy Roundtable Vice President Rob Walgate questioned why election officials offer “ two options for president if one doesn’t count?” He added that the confusing ballots haven’t been publicly explained by officials and that there are a lot of unanswered questions, such as if GoP candidates are aware of it and if Ohio election officials had ever planned to explain it. The issue appears to have come to the public’s attention only because another group, called iVoters produced a video asking questions about the Ohio GOP primary ballot.

In a video, which the group posted below, the group raises questions as to how votes will be counted. Some of those questions have now been answered, thanks to local reporting by local newspapers and TV affiliates.

“Because there are two pathways to selecting delegates to represent Ohio at the convention, voters must vote twice — once for the congressional district delegate and once for delegate at-large,” said party spokeswoman Brittany Warner told the AP. “The votes that will be counted to determine the results are the delegates at-large.”

And the reason for including the option that won’t count? It’s a relic of the congressional district delegate system, which changed but didn’t mandate the ballots to be changed with it. So case closed. There are two options on the Ohio ballot and one won’t count. Some voters could mistake the second box as an alternate choice, and some people may lose their votes.

At least we know what’s wrong. There’s still time to correct course, and some advocates are just simplifying things by telling people to vote for their candidate in both boxes. It’s redundant, but it will ensure they don’t ignore the wrong box. Though like a fake pocket on a pair of jeans, knowing it’s there won’t stop you from reaching and -- grrr, dammit, where can I put my keys #@$%?

It Gets Worse

Unfortunately, the double voting area pitfall is just the beginning. Voters may also end up voting for candidates who are no longer running. Candidates drop out all the time, so this in a normal problem, but Ohio election officials appear to have exacerbated the problem by offering half measures that will only exacerbate the problem. Here’s what’s happening.

Eleven candidates are listed on the ballot, but only John Kasich, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are still in the race. Ohio election officials are posting officials signage saying who has dropped out of the race as of Feb. 5, but it’s only going to make things worse: the notices imply that the other six candidates who dropped out of the race since then are still viable candidates. They are not. The votes for candidates who have bowed out, such as Chris Christie or Ben Carson might as well be thrown in the trash.

“It’s not that the ballot is different. It’s just that this year we have such a contested primary, and a lot more candidates running, and a lot more dropping out, that people are paying a lot more attention to it,” Carrie Davis of the Ohio League of Women Voters told WCPO. “Really, the best advice that we can give to voters is: Read your ballot carefully.”

It Gets Worse (Again)

One group of voters won’t even be allowed to cast a ballot this year. According to ThinkProgress 17-year olds who turn 18 before the November can’t participate any of the Ohio primaries. About half of U.S. states have a similar form of disenfranchisement, but the rule in Ohio is a recent shift based on apparently narrow legal logic.

The Ohio election is looking like it will be a tight race, a hanging-chad, nail-biting kind of race. Ohio Gov. John Kasich is essential tied with real estate tycoon donald Trump. Chaos caused by the ballot could be compounded by election day shenanigans. For example, campaigns and their PACs could issue misleading and official-looking corrections, much the way Cruz already did in Iowa. That’s right; a fake cabinet drawer is an opportunity for a door-to-door salesmen to pitch you something new.

Is all this enough to throw the election towards Kasich or Trump? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

© 2023 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.