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Election guide: What’s happening in Ohio?

Your guide to the midterm elections in the Buckeye State


A poll worker holding voting stickers Getty Images/Photo by Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Election guide: What’s happening in Ohio?

STATE STATS

  • Voter makeup: Ohio uses what is called “bottom-up” registration. When voters request a partisan ballot in a primary, they are considered registered with that party for that election. If they do not vote in a primary election for two consecutive cycles, they are considered unaffiliated voters. By these metrics, the vast majority of the state’s nearly 8 million voters are nonpartisan. As of 2021, nearly 950,000 registered as Democrats compared to roughly 830,000 Republicans. But Ohio, once considered a pivotal swing state, is largely considered safe red now. The state’s electoral votes went to former President Donald Trump for the last two presidential elections. Republicans also gained a trifecta of state House, Senate, and governorship control in 2018 with the election of Mike DeWine as governor.
  • Voting: Ohio offers no-excuse, mail-in ballots and early voting. However, absentee ballots must be delivered to a board of elections office, not a precinct polling location. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell has claimed election workers can manipulate numbers if they see lots of Republican votes come in early. He and other Republicans have instructed voters to hold onto their mail-in ballots until Election Day and then submit them at their polling locations. Elections workers say this is not true, it will lead to long lines, and the ballots cast at the wrong locations cannot be counted. Voters are required to bring a form of ID.
  • Fraud watch: Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is running for reelection, has referred more than 600 cases of alleged voter fraud to the state’s attorney general for further investigation or prosecution. All took place in the 2020 election and allegedly involved people who voted in more than one state, people who were not registered to vote, and some who voted on behalf of a deceased person. Many cases were uncovered through a multistate collaboration through the Public Integrity Division, which Democrats have called a department based on conspiracy theories. LaRose has confirmed that there has been no evidence of enough widespread fraud to have changed election outcomes, and he has spent much of this election cycle fighting claims from people who have given false voting instructions to Ohioans.

GUBERNATORIAL

  • Republican incumbent Mike DeWine started his political career as a county prosecutor, rising through the ranks during his time as a state senator, then a U.S. representative, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. He has refused to debate his Democratic opponent, but he attended the only face-to-face candidate meeting on Oct. 27 with the Cleveland.com editorial board. DeWine’s pro-life record includes a heartbeat law he signed in 2019 that protects unborn babies from abortion after six weeks’ gestation. The law went into effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade this summer. He has also campaigned on his success in bringing Intel to build semiconductor plants in Ohio, which has been one of the worst states for job growth since 2021.
  • Democrat and former Dayton, Ohio, mayor Nan Whaley says she is a better fit for Ohioans largely because of her pro-abortion views and economic plans. She has suggested using federal stimulus money to cut personal checks to state residents to offset inflation. She also proposed reallocating millions in federal and state money to create thousands of union construction jobs. She supports codifying Roe v. Wade and would support an Ohio constitutional amendment to allow abortion with no restrictions. She has criticized DeWine’s record on gun control, especially following a deadly 2019 mass shooting in Dayton. She said she would roll back allowances for permitless concealed-carry and arming teachers. DeWine attempted to pass a red flag law, which failed in the state legislature. Whaley said she would pass it.
  • There are also four independent, write-in candidates for governor on the ballot, but as of Oct. 27, DeWine has a significant lead in all the polls. According to FiveThirtyEight, he leads Whaley by 18.9 points.

SENATE

  • Running as the Democratic candidate to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Tim Ryan faces off against his Republican counterpart in one of the closest races in the November midterm elections. Republicans have tried to frame Ryan as an establishment-friendly, party-following candidate. Ryan says he will go to Washington without allegiance or ties to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. His struggle will be to paint himself as a moderate Democrats can rely on to help them hang on to their slim majority in the Senate. Having been first elected to Congress in 2002, Ryan has a background in politics. He supports abortion but says he comes from a Roman Catholic background.
  • J.D. Vance, the Republican candidate for Senate in Ohio, hasn’t always fallen in the good graces of former President Donald Trump. In 2016, Vance told interviewers that he was in the “never Trump” camp and later went so far as to call him “America’s Hitler.” Now with a neck-and-neck Senate race on the line, Vance has secured Trump’s endorsement. The retired Marine and self-described Catholic has courted Ohio’s MAGA community, leaning hard into Republican rhetoric on border security and competition with China. Vance has criticized Ryan on his partisan voting record, which very closely mirrors the Democratic Party’s overall voting. But Vance has also come under attack for the same—a close and unwavering allegiance to Trump many see as lip service to the Republican Party’s most influential figure. His challenge will be to convince voters in the middle he’s not a Republican-first candidate.

SECRETARY OF STATE

  • Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose has to walk a delicate tightrope. On the one hand, he has to convince voters he’s just as concerned as they are with election integrity, while on the other hand trying to convince them the job he’s done in the past has been reliable enough to trust, even though the election results themselves may not be. A wide base of Republicans in Ohio has maintained that widespread voter fraud led to President Joe Biden’s win in the state, a claim echoed by Trump. Because the office revolves around election integrity, LaRose must convince Republicans in the state that he will step up to the challenge. He also contends that voter fraud had a role in deciding the 2020 presidential election’s outcome and has attacked his challenger for ignoring the issue.
  • Democrat Chelsea Clark contends that as secretary of state, she will defend a democratic process under attack. As a small business leader and a city councilwoman, Clark is working to convince voters that she will look after every Ohio citizen’s right to vote, increase voter participation, and find new ways to make voting more accessible.
  • Terpsehore “Tore” Maras, an Independent, is also running to become Ohio’s next secretary of state. With a background in journalism, Maras claims to be the political outsider who has left her broadcasting career to safeguard the state’s elections. In addition to her work in the news industry, Maras has served in the U.S. Navy and as a government contractor. Maras advocates for the removal of all voting machines, a return to paper ballots, and providing free state-issued ID.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a reporter for WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College graduate. She resides in Washington, D.C.

@CarolinaLumetta


Leo Briceno

Leo is a graduate of Patrick Henry College. He reports on politics from Washington, D.C.

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