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Your Guide to Election Day March 2012: Where to Vote, What's on the Ballot Besides the GOP Primary and What it Means

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 9:48 AM

Remember when there were eight of them? GOP candidates take the stage before a September 2011 debate in Simi Valley, California.

It's Super Tuesday 2012! But the GOP Primary isn't the only item on the ballot.

If you haven't already voted during the early voting period, today's your day to cast your ballot in Democratic and Republican primaries for federal, state, county and court of appeals offices. And there are more than 100 local school issues plus hundreds of other issues from public entities across the state.

Here’s StateImpact Ohio’s guide on where to vote, what’s on the ballot and what it all means.

Check back later today for more on what’s happening at the polls or follow us on Twitter, and check this evening for election results and analysis. Or tune in to our partners at WCPN 90.3 or WKSU 89.7 in Northeast Ohio or WOSU 89.7 in the Columbus area for more election coverage, including live coverage after the polls close.

Where do I vote?

On Election Day, if you’re voting in person, you must vote at your precinct’s designated polling place. You can find your polling place through this tool on the Secretary of State’s website. Still have questions? Contact your local board of election. If you’re using an absentee ballot, separate rules apply.

When can I vote?
Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?
Bring acceptable identification. That includes a driver’s license or state ID card; military ID; the original or a copy of your utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck; or the original or copy of a  government document — other than a voter registration acknowledgement notification mailed by the board of elections — that shows your name and current address. If your driver's license shows an old address, you can still cast a regular ballot as long as your current address is listed on your precinct's official poll list of registered voters.

But even if you don’t bring one of these documents, you can still vote using a provisional ballot.

Which primary can I vote in? 

All registered voters can show up to the polls and vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary. You will then be considered affiliated with whichever party's primary you voted in. That's because, in Ohio, voting in primaries is how party affiliation is determined.

But Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted told Ohio public radio's Jo Ingles that the oath or pledge that Ohioans used to sign when switching parties is not required of everyone anymore:

You can still be challenged but there would have to be reason for the poll worker to challenge you. Frankly this has not been a problem in Ohio. It’s worked pretty well for the most part. And the interpretation is that we are trying to make it easier on the voter and give people the opportunity if they would like to become part of a political party or switch parties that it is fairly easy for them to do.

What's on the ballot?

Depends on where you live. Click here to see the full list.

If you're voting D, you can cast a vote for President Barack Obama in the uncontested primary. If you're voting R, you've got your choice of candidates, though GOP candidate Rick Santorum isn't on the ballot in six of Ohio's congressional districts.

There are contested primaries for many other federal, state and county offices, so take a look to see the races in your area.

And there are more than 100 local school issues, plus hundreds of other local issues for local governments and services, libraries, emergency services and more. (Click here to see the full list.) There are fewer school issues on the ballot this year than in the last presidential primary in 2008, but these issues still come with important consequences for individual districts.

What are the differences among GOP presidential candidates on education issues?

We've got a guide for that. Click here to view it. The gist of it:

The candidates have some unified themes when it comes to education, mostly around cutting back on federal and state spending on public schools and increasing school choice.

Or you can read some of the candidates' full position statements on K12 education:

What happens if my school issue passes?

The school district issues on the ballot include property tax levies as well as income tax issues and bonds. Most call for increased property taxes, rather than income taxes. And taking all the issues together, slightly more districts are asking voters to approve new taxes rather than just re-approve existing taxes.

Depending on the district, a successful school issue could allow a district to build a new school, renovate existing facilities, or avoid or lessen spending cuts in staff, classes, programs or transportation.

What happens if my school issue fails?

Depending on the district, a failed school issue could mean cutting spending. District officials say that can lead to crowded classrooms, fewer class offerings, fewer bus routes and families paying more for extracurricular activities. For a few districts, passing a levy is key to avoiding a state takeover of the district’s finances.


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