Primary Elections in Ohio

A primary election is an election used either to narrow the field of candidates for a given elective office or to determine the nominees for political parties in advance of a general election.

Primary elections can take several different forms in Ohio. The methods employed to determine the outcome of the primary can also vary from city to city, or district to district.

In a partisan primary, voters select a candidate to be a political party’s nominee(s) for a given office in the November general election.

Nonpartisan primaries are used to narrow the field of candidates for nonpartisan offices in advance of a general election.

In Ohio, the law provides for open primaries, meaning voters do not have to register with a party to participate in its primary. Voters select the ballot of the party whose primary they wish to vote in at the polling place.

Winners in Ohio primary elections are determined via plurality vote, meaning that the candidate with the highest number of votes wins, even if she did not win an outright majority of votes cast.

You can vote for more than one candidate? Yes, sometimes!

In many at-large and school board races, each voter selects up to X candidates on the ballot. In nonpartisan races, voters are commonly permitted to cast their votes across more than one party list. The X candidates with the most votes (who may or may not obtain a majority of available votes) are the winners and will fill the positions, or move on to the general election. See below for an example of a race structured this way. 


Plurality-at-large example

The Matriotstown City Council consists of three seats, and seven candidates are vying for these seats. Voters each select a maximum of three candidates.

Election results
Candidate Votes
Susan 1,250
Ida 800
Elizabeth 650
Alice 600
Lucy 500
Millicent 400
Lucretia 300

Since Susan, Ida, and Elizabeth received the most votes, they will comprise the Matriotstown City Council. If this were a primary, Susan, Ida and Elizabeth would advance to the general election. Susan and Ida each obtained a majority of the maximum 1,500 votes available per candidate; Elizabeth obtained only a plurality. In most races in Ohio, only a plurality is necessary.


Across the state, many races in 2019 will move directly to the general election. If a race either: (1) a nonpartisan election which waived the primary, or (2) the race includes candidates who do not have a primary opponent, the race will move directly to the general election on November 5th, 2019.


Primary Election Key Dates

April 8th, 2019: register to vote for the May 7,  2019 primary election. Click here to register to vote.

April 9th, 2019: Absentee and Early In-person voting begin. Click here to find your county’s early voting center. 

May 4th, 2019: Deadline to request an absentee ballot. 

May 7th, 2019: Primary Election (polls are open from 6:30 am – 7:30 pm)


Join The Matriots PAC today to help support our Class of 2019 candidates. Your investment will help advance female candidates to the general election and prepare to endorse, support and encourage more female candidates in 2020 and beyond. 

Meet a Matriot: Valerie Lemmie Thomas

Valerie is a Founding Member Class of 2018 and a member of The Matriots board of directors. Valerie is a brilliant strategic thinker with extensive experience in public policy. She is from the Dayton area and currently serves as the director of exploratory research at the Kettering Foundation.

Before serving at the Kettering Foundation, Valerie served as city manager for the cities of Petersburg, Virginia as well as Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.  Additionally she was a commissioner on the Public Utility Commission of Ohio and the acting chief of staff for Congressman Turner, of Ohio’s 10th district. She has served on several boards, including the House of Representatives Committee on Urban Redevelopment and President Clinton’s Greenhouse Gas Advisory Committee. We are so fortunate to have Valerie as a member and leader of The Matriots PAC!

You are a member of The Matriots board of directors, and serve on several committees, what drew you to our work?

As a career public administrator, my goal was to ensure the organizations I managed were efficient, effective, and economical, the values recognized in the profession as the pillars of good government.   As one of the first African Americans and women to serve as city manager, I represented the importance women and people of color brought to the governance process.  When I learned about The Matriots and their core belief in the need for more political leadership and participation by women, it resonated with my personal and professional experiences and career.  Additionally, professional standards dictate that city managers are nonpartisan, so joining The Matriots has provided me an opportunity to use my knowledge and understanding of local and state government to help encourage and support women who stand for public office.   Through our collective power, The Matriots help ensure the interest of women and families will be central to public policies enacted by elected bodies in our state, strengthening our communities and enhancing the quality of life for all.

You served as the city manager for both Cincinnati and Dayton, can you share with our members what accomplishments from your time in office that you are most proud of?

As a city manager, I aspired to achieve the ideals articulated in the Oath of the Athenian City-State to “…transmit this City not only, not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”  I wanted to make a profound difference in the quality of life of those who lived and worked in the cities I managed, and most importantly, to change the order of things so that those who’d been traditionally disenfranchised had a voice and recognized their power to act as democratic citizens.

Building bridges across political, gender and economic divides; finding pathways to success for those who’d been previously marginalized; and promoting women and people of color to key management and leadership positions in local government are some of the relational accomplishments of which I’m most proud.

On an operational level, I’m most proud in Dayton of the (1) redevelopment we began in the downtown of housing and amenities, including, with the approval of the Cincinnati Reds and Major League Baseball, bringing major league baseball to town —the Dayton Dragons have been sold out for the past twenty years and continue to be a major attraction, catalyzing restaurants, housing and other amenities; (2) in a collaborative partnership with Montgomery County and Five Rivers Metro parks, the redevelopment of the riverfront to what is now RiverScape; (3) the construction of a performing arts center in collaboration with many public and private stakeholders; (3) building and renovation of the first market-rate housing in the inner city of Dayton for generations;  (4) partnership with Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton that resulted in the redevelopment of the previously disinvested neighborhood anchored by these two institutions, to create new housing opportunities for residents and students and a new small business corridor; (5) development of an innovative program, in collaboration with Sinclair Junior College, to train minorities and women for positions in the city’s public safety forces (unfortunately, not sustained) and (6) the creation of innovative development financing tools, including the port authority.

In Cincinnati, it was (1) the successful implementation of the Collaborative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to change police practices, policies and procedures in response to allegations of racial profiling and the use of force against people of color; (2) creation of a development financing authority to lead and finance redevelopment in the downtown and Over- the-Rhine, the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC); (3) related partnerships with other institutional partners including the University of Cincinnati; (4) retaining key headquarter companies in the downtown; and (5) supporting and financing neighborhood redevelopment.

You were also appointed commissioner by Governor Taft and Governor Strickland to the Public Utilities Commission. Can you share with our members what your role was and why the commission’s work is important?

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is important because it affects every household in Ohio through its regulation of utility service providers, including electric and natural gas companies, local and long distance telephone companies, water and wastewater companies, rail and trucking companies.  As commissioner, you approve the rates utilities can charge end users, help ensure utility system reliability and the incorporation of renewal energy resources into the energy mix.  During my term as commissioner, we implemented the competitive retail markets for electricity and natural gas.  I also served as president of the Organization of MISO States, a regional state compact that was established to represent the collective interests of states and local utility regulators with the operator of the bulk wholesale power transmission system operator.

Now you are the director of exploratory research at the Kettering Foundation, a nonprofit foundation conducting research focused on what people can collectively do to address problems affecting their lives, their communities and their nation. Kettering’s primary research question is: what does it take to make democracy work as it should? In your opinion, what does it take to make democracy work as it should?

The Charles F. Kettering Foundation studies how to make democracy work as it should and our research is conducted from the perspective of citizens and what they can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities and their nation.  Our core insights suggest that a robust democracy requires responsible citizens who can make sound decisions about their future and can act on these decisions in democratic and complementary ways with government to produce public goods.  We define citizenship not as a legal status, but as a practice that is more than voting and serving on juries.  Citizens are more than consumers, constituents, clients and customers—they are people who work collectively with government to address shared community problems.

Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby or a personal interest.

The joy of my life is raising our twelve year old grandson.  He is a delightful, happy, sensitive young man who lights up our life.  For a class project, he and two classmates created a business—they sell keychains they designed and 3-D printed along with baked goods they make.  Their in-school enterprise is so successful they’ve hired two classmates to work for them!  Aden loves sports, playing Forte Night and watching You Tube videos and his active life keeps my husband and me engaged and active!

Meet a Matriot: Tom Grote

 

Tom Grote is Matriarch and past member of The Matriots PAC board of directors. He was instrumental in our organization’s early growth and  is active in his community. He currently is leading the opening of the Grote family innovation center and is a partner at Grote Turner, which works with companies and non-profits to clearly define and align purpose in their organizations. He sits on the COTA board of trustees and previously served on the board of trustees for the United Way of Central Ohio. He helped found Equality Ohio, and most recently co-chaired the capital campaign for Stonewall Columbus. Tom lives in German Village with his husband, Rick Neal, their daughters Amoret (9) and Sophia (7) and their newly adopted dog, Muppy.

You joined the board of directors of The Matriots PAC when it first formed. What drew you to our work and how did it feel to be the only man on the board of an organization dedicated to women’s leadership?

My husband and I and our girls, Amoret and Sophia, participated in the DC Women’s March in 2017.  I was impressed by the energy and tone of the March. There were thousands and thousands of mostly women, and it was intense.  But intense in a peaceful, determined way. It was powerful. And I was proud that my girls had that experience. Amoret’s take away was one of the chants, “My body, my choice.”  She uses this as a way to claim her own power about all kinds of things. She has internalized this and her daddies could not be more happy and proud.

The women who founded The Matriots were also at that march.  And that is what drew me to them. They have that same peaceful determination.  The Matriots are right that we need more women in office. Because we need more of that peaceful intensity making the decisions that affect our communities and our children’s futures.  

I was proud to be the only man on the Matriots’ steering committee and board.  There is a different dynamic in a group of women rather than a group of mostly men.  Most of the dynamics are better in that there was more discussion and more sensitivity to points of view, and less worry about who got credit.  There were some tears and sharing that were helpful as well. There were comments made that are not typically made in front of men, I think. Some were surprising to me, but I will take them to the grave 🙂

You were instrumental in the founding and success of Equality Ohio, a statewide organization that advocates and educates to achieve fair treatment and equal opportunity for all Ohioans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Are there similarities between that experience and helping to get The Matriots off the ground?

So many similarities.  Both statewide, political organizations led by highly motivated volunteers seizing a moment in history.  Both working with many constituencies, challenging them to come together despite differences and backgrounds.  Most importantly, both with an opportunity to define a bold vision and inspire folks to donate time and treasure.  I was able to lean on my experience with Equality Ohio, particularly around challenging us to be bold and clearly define our vision.  The Matriots’ bold goal: 50% of all officeholders will be women in ten years! It is bold, but achievable. And achieving it will make Ohio better.  

In addition to grassroots organizing, you have spent the last year helping your husband, Rick Neal, campaign for US Congress. How was that experience and did it change your view of politics?

I could write a book on this one.  I learned so much. First off, many folks complain about the work around running for office.  But, if you have the right attitude, it can be fun. Our family was all in and we had a blast.  We liked the campaigning. And we liked being able to stand up for our values, particularly in this time of Trump.  While Rick did not win his race, we did get to participate in taking back the house, particularly since Rick ran against the chair of the NRCC.  Despite the loss, this was a huge win for our democracy. Democracy works, but not for the lazy. We got to show our kids that first hand. No regrets.    

What motivates you and Rick to be so politically active?

Rick is a peace corps guy.  He took an oath to uphold the constitution.  He has community in his DNA. For me, I had some dark days in my life dealing with my sexual orientation.  I had an awakening as I navigated through that process. I am deeply connected to a sense of WE versus ME. I resonate with leaders who fight for all of us.  I want to be that type of leader too. So, I usually say yes to opportunities that show up around social justice and community. And a lot of those opportunities are political in nature.  

Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby or a personal interest.

Given that we had to fight for the right to marry and adopt our kids, family is everything to me.  I love spending time with my kids. And I love being goofy with them. The best times are blaring Alexa to kids bop and 70’s disco songs and singing and dancing our hearts out.  This gay boy is un-stereotypically a very bad dancer, just ask my girls. But those are the best times ever!

New Research Details Current State of Women in Ohio Elected Office

The Matriots PAC conducts first “State of Women in Ohio Elected Office” report detailing numbers of women in political office – from school board to Governor.

 

Columbus, Ohio – According to a new research report that provides the first formal measurement of women in Ohio office, out of 17,616 elected offices at all levels of government in Ohio, just 29% of the positions are held by women. Sponsored by The Matriots PAC, the research includes a review of offices from school boards to village, city, county, and governor to create a more accurate picture of the number of women in political office. Prior to this report, female representation in office has never been formally accounted for by the Ohio Secretary of State.

Using data from the 2016-2017 term for local government and 2017-2018 for federal, state, county and judiciary, this study shows the highest proportional representations of women in Ohio office at the school board level with 36% of total positions held by women. However, this percentage consistently decreases the higher the level of government with just 22% representation at the state level and 16% at the federal level. It further highlights female representation in specific roles such as council member, sheriff, and fiscal officer, and throughout Ohio’s counties with Portage and Monroe showing the highest at 40% and Mercer at the lowest with 12%.

“It’s time we measure what matters. The Matriots’ long-term goal is to see 50% of all political offices in Ohio held by women, but it’s hard to achieve this if we don’t know what the current state looks like,” said Sally Crane Cox, Matriots board chair. “This research helps us better understand how much work is left to be done. Working toward equal-gender political representation benefits not just the 51% of the state’s population that is grossly underrepresented but will lead to more legislation and policies that support families and communities throughout Ohio.”

The Matriots PAC, a statewide nonpartisan political action committee, formed in 2017 with the mission to elect more women to office in Ohio who will support an economy in which women can thrive and prosper. The organization quickly grew to one of the most powerful PACs in Ohio after raising $1 million in contributions, pledges, and in-kind in its first year. In the recent 2018 general election, 16 Matriots-endorsed candidates won their races, contributing to the highest percentage of women in Ohio’s general assembly in the state’s history.

The list of officeholder names included in the study was gathered from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. As gender information is not collected on Ohio’s voter registration forms, when gender was not readily available, it was estimated using names and a statistical computing software, GenderizeR, that predicts gender based on first names. The research allows for a 4% margin of error for each level of government.

“This research is exciting because not only does it finally give us a real picture of the numbers of women who are working hard to better our communities through the work they are doing at the school board, village, county, and state levels, it helps us prioritize our efforts, as an organization, around future outreach and elections,” said Elissa Schneider, Matriots executive director. “At 29% representation, we’ve got some work to do, particularly when it comes to higher level offices.”

The Matriots Endorsed Candidates win on November 6!

 

Nickie Antonio, Ohio Senate – District 23

Kristin Boggs, Ohio House – District 18

Marilyn Brown, Franklin County Commissioner

Randi Clites, Ohio House – District 75

Erica Crawley, Ohio House – District 26

Teresa Fedor, Ohio Senate – District 11

Tavia Galonski, Ohio House – District 35

Brigid Kelly, Ohio House – District 31

Mary Lightbody, Ohio House – District 19

Beth Liston, Ohio House – District 21

Jessica Miranda, Ohio House – District 28

Allison Russo, Ohio House – District 24

Carolyn Rice, Montgomery County Commissioner

Christiane Schmenk, Union County Commissioner

Stephanie Summerow Dumas, Hamilton County Commissioner

Sandra Williams, Ohio Senate – District 21