Changes to the 2016 election ballot

Alex Delaney-Gesing

This year’s election has brought more than a few changes and “first timers” to the state of Ohio and the nation. Besides the obvious — businessman Donald Trump not only running for the GOP candidacy but also being the current frontrunner — the 2016 election season has had some unusual aspects to it.

New “winner-take-all” primary

This past September, the Ohio GOP made the decision to make the March 15 primary a “winner-take-all” race. This means that the winner of the Ohio primary will automatically receive all of the state’s 66 delegates, unlike in previous years, when candidates received only portions of the total number.

The new format comes after Ohio lawmakers signed legislation earlier in 2015, changing the 2016 primary from the March 8, date to a week later. This changed the rules established by the Republican National Committee, which requires primary elections taking place prior to March 15 to grant delegates on a “proportional basis.”

Republican ballot confusion

In other state news, the Republican primary ballot has caused confusion among voters. While the Democrat ballot lists only delegates-at-large candidates, two sections—delegates-at-large and district delegates—appears to require voters to vote twice for the GOP candidate.

A video posted on, a website owned by the nonprofit organization American Policy Roundtable, which centers on restoring Judeo-Christian principles to American public policy, featured its vice president, Rob Walgate, questioning the confusion of the ballot.

“Do I need to vote for the same person twice to get (my ballot) to count?” Walgate asked in the video. “What if I vote for one person for delegate-at-large and a different person for district delegate? Do they cancel each other?”

Walgate went on to ask whether voting for only one of the options (district-at-large or district delegate) would even count.

“This is a very confusing ballot, especially in a winner-take-all primary where the only thing that matters is who gets the most votes,” he said.

Despite calling local board of elections offices, an Ohio GOP headquarters and the state’s secretary of state office, Walgate said no one was able to answer their questions.

“It shouldn’t be this confusing,” he said. “The Democratic ballot is simple.”

Ohio GOP Republican Chairman Matt Borges confirmed in a phone interview with WKYC that it’s ultimately the “delegates-at-large” that determines the outcome of the primary.

“Why the hell would anyone vote for two?” Borges asked.

Husted sued by Sanders campaign

On Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ campaign sued Ohio’s Secretary of State Jon Husted. The lawsuit comes following Husted’s decision to exclude 17-year-olds—specifically those who will turn 18 prior to the general election—from voting for the presidential candidate in Ohio’s primary.

Husted’s determination contrasts with the rules laid out in Ohio’s 2015 election manual, which states, “Ohio law allows a 17-year-old voter who will be 18 years of age on or before the date of the next general election to vote in the primary election solely on the nomination of candidates. This is because the 17-year-old voter will be eligible to vote for the nominees at the November general election.”

The manual states that 17-year-olds are not permitted to vote on state party central committee, county party central committee, as well as questions and issues.

Husted’s response to the lawsuit claimed that he was happy to be sued because, as he said in a statement, “… the law is crystal clear. We are following the same rules Ohio has operated under in past primaries, under both Democrat and Republican administrations. There is nothing new here. If you are going to be 18 by the November election, you can vote, just not on every issue.”

Alex Delaney-Gesing is a general assignment reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].