YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – It appears as if the growing support for presidential candidate Donald Trump among voters who aren’t Republicans is causing a little confusion over the way the ballots are laid out.
Historically, those voting Republican in presidential primaries choose both at-large delegates and those representing individual congressional districts. Democrat ballots include only those running “at-large.”
Mahoning County Deputy Director of Elections Tom McCabe said, despite the similarities to past ballots, his office is still getting a lot of questions as to why voters get to vote twice for president.
Willard Tucker said it is his first time voting in a Republican primary for president, but the way the ballot is laid out — with the two lists of candidates — left him confused.
“They said it was only on the Republican side, nothing on the Democrat, so it was just a question of is it gonna cancel each other out?” he said.
State election leaders say there is nothing unusual about the ballots, urging voters to choose their candidates in both columns.
“Republicans who commonly vote in presidential primaries will be familiar with the way the ballot looks, because it’s no different than it has looked in the past,” said Joshua Eck, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
There is one change to the ballot this year.
Unlike previous presidential primaries, where delegates were awarded proportionately, this time around, it is winner-take-all, with Ohio’s Republican Party leadership awarding all 66 delegates up for grabs to the leader. This could give a boost to Ohio Gov. John Kasich; if he wins his home state, he will pick up all 66 delegates.
“That ballot is leftover from the day when the state used to award their delegates on the Republican side proportionately, where now we’re a winner-take-all state, so again, the understanding is both columns will county and the state party can do what they want from those results,” McCabe said.
Eck reiterated that both columns will be tabulated, and the results will be made available to the public on election night.
Adding further confusion to this year’s election — a lawsuit has been filed following Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s decision to bar 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before the general elections from casting a ballot for president in the Ohio primary.
Seventeen-year-olds can cast a vote on some candidates, even in congressional races, because that is not a direct vote for a candidate or delegate.
They will be barred in Ohio from voting for a presidential nominee, or on issues like school levies.
Husted released a statement following a lawsuit filed on Tuesday about what 17-year-old are permitted to vote on in a primary election.
“I welcome this lawsuit and I am very happy to be sued on this issue because 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.”
“That means 17-year-olds can vote in the primary, but only on the nomination of candidates to the General Election ballot. They are not permitted to elect candidates, which is what voters are doing in a primary when they elect delegates to represent them at their political party’s national convention, or vote on issues like school, police and fire levies,” Husted said in a statement released Tuesday.