In Ohio, 3 out of 4 voters are non-partisan, now face a choice ahead of contested party primaries

Posted at 6:35 PM, Apr 06, 2022

CLEVELAND — In Ohio right now, votes are being cast in the contested Democratic and Republican primaries, most notably for U.S. Senate and for Governor. The problem is most Ohio voters aren't technically registered in a way to vote for either — they're registered non-partisans or independents.

"So if you want to vote for one party's candidate you know you gotta make a choice," said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose.

Ohio's a state where the red and blue divide is often talked about, so you might not think the number of non-partisans was that high, but it is.

In Cuyahoga County, for example, 70% of voters are non-partisan compared to 23% Democrat and 7% Republican. Statewide, among the 7.8 million registered voters, the number of non-partisans is even higher, according to the Secretary of State's office. In Ohio, 77% of voters are non-partisan, Democrats come in at 11.8% and Republicans make up 10.4%.

If you vote as a non-partisan in this primary, you'll get what's called an issues-only ballot.

"If you pick an issues-only ballot," LaRose said, "you're not going to see candidates for governor, for U.S. Senate, for Congress; it's just gonna be tax levies and that kind of thing."

The problem with that, for example, in Cuyahoga County, you might not have anything to vote for on this spring's ballot.

"Cuyahoga County does not have a countywide issue on the ballot this time," said Anthony Perlatti, Director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. "So because of that, most jurisdictions will only have a Democrat or Republican ballot available for them."

The good news is in Ohio are primaries are partially open. That means if you are non-partisan and want to vote in one of the primaries, there's no paperwork to fill out, you just simply request the ballot you want at your polling place or your vote-by-mail application.

"So they can choose a Democratic or Republican ballot regardless of what their party currently is or are unaffiliated," Perlatti said.

That also means a Republican can opt to vote in the Democratic primary or vice-versa — something LaRose said he's familiar with.

"I'll give you an example." he said. "My Mom is a Democrat but I think that she's going to request a Republican ballot so she can vote for me, and that's something I'm proud of her doing."

Just know if you do that, you will now be listed as a member of the party in whose primary you voted.