CLEVELAND - Early voting gets underway today in Ohio leading up to the state's May 8 primary election. Local Boards of Election will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. leading up to the final week before the election when hours will expand.
The first open governor's seat in a dozen years sparking primary battles in both the Democrat and Republican sides expected to drive turnout and may also along with Issue 1, the question over reforms to end gerrymandering, lure more Independents to the polls.
"You have independents interested in this issue," said News 5 Political Analyst Dr. Tom Sutton of Baldwin-Wallace University. "I think you'll see some independents also pull a party ballot because we've got a lot of contested races all of that combined means that we'll see a higher percentage of independents jumping in."
The Republican-controlled state legislature voted earlier this year to put Issue 1 which takes steps to draw the state's congressional districts more fairly on the May ballot.
"It gives the minority party veto power on any map that's drawn, super majorities of the house and senate have to pass the map in order for it to go into effect," Sutton said. "If they can't come to an agreement and it only happens by a simple majority they have to try again in four years to draw the map again which is a big incentive to get it right the first time."
The Republicans last drew the lines that created safe districts for twelve Republicans and four Democrats so why would they vote to change the way those lines are drawn in the future which could cost them seats? The move to put this measure on the May ballot pre-empts a more restrictive effort that was gaining steam towards a November ballot question.
Sutton said in some ways it was like the effort several years ago to allow medical marijuana in the state. In that case, the issue failed on the ballot but the legislature stepped in to craft their own legislation to allow it on their terms rather than risk losing at the polls.
"They said we need to get this in law because they saw this issue coming back," Sutton said. "So in the same way, a more radical citizens commission kind of approach which is what some supporters really would have liked to have seen. The legislature stepped in and got this on the ballot themselves."