Confusion over the Dayton Primary Election

By now, I’m used to hearing misconceptions about voting in Ohio. The one I run into most of the time is from ex-offenders. Yes, you can vote in Ohio if you’ve been convicted of a felony- as long as you are registered to vote. You don’t get to vote while incarcerated, but, when you have been “rehabilitated” you can vote.

But, last Sunday I heard a new one. A guy with a Ph.D. didn’t vote in the Dayton primaries because he didn’t want to declare a party affiliation. While that’s true in the even-year primaries – where you can ask for an “Issues only” ballot, the Dayton primary is nonpartisan- party affiliations don’t show on the ballot and the primary is purely a winnowing of candidates down to double the number of the available seats. We have 3 in the mayoral race now- after the primary, the top two advance. In the city commission race, we have 5 candidates on the ballot, after- we’ll have 4 for the two seats.

But, when you go to the Montgomery County Board of Elections site, you find this:

Do I have to declare a political party?

You are not required to declare a party preference. However, you should know Ohio is a closed primary state. In a primary election, voters may only vote for candidates in their party. By not selecting a party, you limit your vote in the primaries to only issues. In the general election, party affiliation is not an issue. You may vote for any candidate, regardless of party preference.

2. When and how do I change my party preference?

A party affiliation may be declared and changed only by casting a ballot in a particular party’s primary election.

via Montgomery County, Ohio – Political Affiliation.

And, by the way, you can’t register as an “independent” in Ohio. There are only certain recognized parties that are allowed to have their party name appear on the ballot: the majors: Democrat, Republican, and the “minors”: the Constitution Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Socialist Party USA. (per Secretary of States DIRECTIVE 2011-01 – Ohio Secretary of State

It would be nice if the local Board of Elections had their facts straight on their site. It would also be nice if they would work to empower the citizens to vote and choose who they’d like, instead of doing everything possible to keep candidates off the ballots and voters in the dark.

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