CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections was a lonely place on this first day of in-person early voting with just a handful of voters coming out, election officials said the back and forth over the redistricting process and talk of primary delays or multiple primaries may have confused some. Not Constance Ugdah of Cleveland though.
"I mean what can I do? All I can do is vote for what's there," she said.
It was something else that left Michael Carrier of Shaker Heights scratching his head.
"The most confusing thing today is this temporary ballot thing they got going on," Carrier said. "I would prefer to have put my official ballot in to scan it."
Yes, there are no ballot scanners set up at the moment for in-person early voting. Because of the delays and court challenges the official ballots didn't go to the printer until Monday, the day before they were needed. As a result, those voting early in person are voting on a PDF or basically a printed copy of a ballot that they then hand over to the elections workers.
"They will mark that ballot, they will put it in a secure identification envelope," said Anthony Perlatti, Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. "And then what will happen is when we do have the live ballots a bi-partisan team of employees will transfer those vote selections from the PDF to a live ballot."
Also if you requested a vote by mail ballot they likely won't go out in the mail until Thursday or Friday. The races voters will see on those ballots are all statewide races like the battles for governor and U.S. Senate, the county races, and the ones for congress. What you won't see are the state legislative contests, those maps are still being fought in the courts. As a result, the state legislature will now have to pick a date for a second primary for them.
"So what I'm suggesting to them is that they consider the second of August. That is a date that the Boards of Elections normally use as a Special Election date. That would allow us enough time to finish one election," said Secretary of State Frank LaRose. "And then we would start to prepare for the next election and that would time out to be August second."
LaRose was critical of Republican Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor who has sided with Democrats on the court in throwing out multiple maps from the Redistricting Commission LaRose sits on. He was quoted on Friday saying he would support efforts to impeach O'Connor. Comments he told News 5 Tuesday he stands behind.
"I stand by exactly what I said because what I said is that the state legislature gets to make this decision. It's 33 senators and 99 representatives that get to decide if any supreme court justice should be impeached and I know that that's a topic of conversation. And what I said is that I wouldn't stand in the way of that, I wouldn't oppose it, it's not my choice anyway. I certainly have concerns that the chief justice has gone beyond what her oath of office requires and that is to interpret the law faithfully. I believe that the Ohio Supreme Court or at least the four-member liberal majority on the Ohio Supreme Court has begun to make law from the bench and that is deeply concerning," he said.
When asked if he was concerned whether he and the other members of the commission will be found to be in contempt by the court LaRose said he wasn't.
"The legal standard for contempt of court is very clear and there's also a big separation of powers question here. I represent the executive branch of government there are members of the Redistricting Commission from the legislative branch of government, each of us is allowed to speak our minds about whether we think another elected official is doing their job well or not," said LaRose.
"And we have followed what the court has told us to do even though those standards have changed constantly over the last seven months, I mean the court has sort of moved the goalposts and told us now do this, now do this," he said. "So certainly we have not been in contempt of what the court has told us to do."
LaRose cast his vote early in person at the Franklin County Board of Elections. Back in Cuyahoga County Michael Carrier urged people to vote any way they like, so long as they vote.
"I'm a veteran so I believe in voting," Carrier said. "I don't care about your political beliefs, I just believe everybody should vote. You want to show you’re a great American? Go vote."