Election Day fallout changes race, upsets plans


By Josh Ellerbrock - jellerbrock@limanews.com



A sign tells would-be voters at the Putnam County YMCA in Ottawa about the postponement of Tuesday’s primary election amid fears of coronavirus spreading.

A sign tells would-be voters at the Putnam County YMCA in Ottawa about the postponement of Tuesday’s primary election amid fears of coronavirus spreading.


David Trinko | The Lima News

Ohio’s 4th Congressional District Democratic candidates also expressed frustration with the state’s moves Tuesday:

Shannon Freshour: “The health of Ohio residents should always be first and foremost. That being said, what happened late last night is unconscionable and unconstitutional. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s lack of leadership frustrated poll workers, confused voters and questioned one of our fundamentals of democracy — the right to vote.”

Jeffrey Sites: “It’s crucially important right now that we do whatever we can to protect people’s health. We are facing a pandemic, and a delay is worth it to help stem the tide. This is a time to be safe, rather than sorry. However, the way this was handled served Ohioans and the democratic process poorly, raised real legal questions and created chaos and confusion in an already chaotic and confusing time.”

Mike Larsen: “We ran the campaign we wanted to run and were feeling good about today’s election. Everywhere I went, Democrats responded to our message of standing up for progressive values and speaking honestly to Ohio voters. We’re confident we will come out on top whenever the election is held and urge the Governor and Secretary of State to do that through absentee voting as soon as possible. Even though the finish line has been moved, our campaign is still running strong.”

LIMA — Out of all the cancellations and closings caused by COVID-19, postponing Ohio’s Election Day really took the cake.

And now Beth Seibert has to buy another one. Literally.

The candidate for Allen County commissioner had planned for an Tuesday night election party complete with cake, but when Gov. Mike DeWine’s directives to close the polls came down the line, Seibert found herself with a cake and no party.

Ohio voters, however, were just mostly confused.

“The last 24 hours have been hell,” Allen County Board of Elections Director Kathy Meyer said.

Meyer said local residents had been calling the county board throughout the day Monday for the most up-to-date information on the status of polling locations, but the board of elections had received conflicting messages from the state as the day moved through its paces. By the time Meyer had prepped for bed, the final call came down the line.

Polls were to be closed.

“We had to scramble and make sure everyone was notified,” Meyer said.

On Tuesday, Meyer said the board was busy as residents still found their way to the board of elections to request and fill out absentee ballots. As of Tuesday morning, 2,210 had been turned in, and 1,186 had been mailed out.

Confusion, however, still lingers for many voters.

Seibert, who had been going door-to-door in Lafayette yesterday, said she ran across one gentleman who thought that he had lost his chance to vote completely.

“He was seriously convinced before I got there that he had lost the opportunity to vote,” Seibert said.

DeWine, however, has said that the decision to close the polls was meant to increase the opportunity, not negate it. During the governor’s now daily press update on COVID-19, DeWine repeatedly defended the action by explaining that he didn’t want the final vote to be influenced by coronavirus concerns.

Keeping polls open would ask voters to choose between risking their health and exercising their constitutional, and so, the state decided to set a new election date, he said. If the courts agree, voters will now have the chance on June 2 to cast a ballot in person and until May 26 to request an absentee ballot.

“We need to allow those citizens that become ill to be able to have opportunity at some point to vote. The longer we can spread that time out, the better that is,” DeWine said.

From a candidate’s point of view, however, the postponement creates some problems. Normally, a candidate aims to increase advertising efforts in the weeks prior to an election in order to deplete their campaign funds and get the most bang out of their buck, but with a change in the schedule, they have to head back to the drawing boards.

“We’re trying to decide: Do we need to reinvest in those (advertising) spaces or do they need to end? We’ll probably let most of those elapse, but our yard signs are staying up,” Seibert said.

Other county candidates are in similar boats. Tim Sielschott, Alan Tyrrell, Judy Augsburger and Greg Stolly have all put their names and faces on ads and yard signs throughout the county, and with an extended voting period, candidates essentially have a second chance to build upon what they’ve already done or they could lose the gains they’ve already made.

The change has also complicated how the county will move forward with replacing Allen County commissioner Jay Begg. By law, Begg will vacate the position by midnight Tuesday, and it will be up to the Allen County Republican Party to decide how to fill the seat.

Prior to Monday, the goal was put the winner of the primary in the position as an interim commissioner, but Keith Cheney, the county party’s chairman, said limitations on meeting size have hampered the selection committee’s ability to meet.

For now, Cheney said the committee, like so many others in the past week, sits in a holding pattern.

A sign tells would-be voters at the Putnam County YMCA in Ottawa about the postponement of Tuesday’s primary election amid fears of coronavirus spreading.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/03/web1_ElectionVoting-1.jpgA sign tells would-be voters at the Putnam County YMCA in Ottawa about the postponement of Tuesday’s primary election amid fears of coronavirus spreading. David Trinko | The Lima News

By Josh Ellerbrock

jellerbrock@limanews.com

Ohio’s 4th Congressional District Democratic candidates also expressed frustration with the state’s moves Tuesday:

Shannon Freshour: “The health of Ohio residents should always be first and foremost. That being said, what happened late last night is unconscionable and unconstitutional. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s lack of leadership frustrated poll workers, confused voters and questioned one of our fundamentals of democracy — the right to vote.”

Jeffrey Sites: “It’s crucially important right now that we do whatever we can to protect people’s health. We are facing a pandemic, and a delay is worth it to help stem the tide. This is a time to be safe, rather than sorry. However, the way this was handled served Ohioans and the democratic process poorly, raised real legal questions and created chaos and confusion in an already chaotic and confusing time.”

Mike Larsen: “We ran the campaign we wanted to run and were feeling good about today’s election. Everywhere I went, Democrats responded to our message of standing up for progressive values and speaking honestly to Ohio voters. We’re confident we will come out on top whenever the election is held and urge the Governor and Secretary of State to do that through absentee voting as soon as possible. Even though the finish line has been moved, our campaign is still running strong.”

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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