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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Ohio's Electors Unanimously Cast Their Ballots for Donald Trump

photo of electors signing in
As electors signed in to cast their votes, protesters chanted and carried signs outside the Statehouse.

There were no surprises inside the Ohio Statehouse today as the state’s 18 electors cast their ballots for Republican President-Elect Donald Trump. But as Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles reports, it wasn’t a day without controversy.

When the state’s electors arrived for their noon gathering at the Statehouse, they were greeted by about 200 protesters chanting and carrying mostly hand-made signs. Their message was clear: vote for anyone other than President-elect Donald Trump. Ann Morris of Columbus was among the protesters.

“We are just hoping some people will vote their conscience and not vote for Trump. We are not asking necessarily that they vote for Hillary (Clinton), but we are asking that they do not vote for Trump. We think he is going to be terrible for this country.

"I think people who are independent, Republican, Democratic, can all agree that this person will not work with anyone and really doesn’t care about anyone. So we are hoping that the electors just vote their conscience," Morris said.

'This person will not work with anyone and really doesn't care about anyone. So we are hoping that the electors just vote their conscience.'

Morris and many of the protesters pointed out that Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote nationally by nearly three million votes. But inside the Senate chambers, the state’s electors did vote for Trump, and in a big way.

“The Electors have cast 18 votes for Donald J. Trump for president and 18 votes for Mike Pence for vice president.”

Conservative Values
The electors and the speakers at this 54th Electoral College praised Trump. Among them was Ohio’s Treasurer Josh Mandel, who recently announced his 2018 U.S. Senate run with a video filled with Trump-type themes. He says Trump’s election signals a return to conservative values and an end to political correctness.

“We are going to have a restoration of people believing in what they want to believe in, saying what they want to say, calling it how it is and being comfortable to be who they are and proud to be Americans,” Mandel said.

The electors knew this presidential race was controversial. And they say they have been barraged with messages to reject Trump. One of the electors, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones, described it this way.

“We’ve been getting inundated with mail. When the mail truck has to back up in my driveway, it’s kind of unique. But it’s protesters and I’m used to protesters, but this is a great place to be and you are seeing history in the making, right here," said Jones.

Undeterred by Controversy
One of the electors resigned in the hours before the vote because of pressure from a lawsuit filed over the weekend. It challenged whether state Rep. Christina Hagan of Stark County could serve as both a state lawmaker and an elector, though there have been several instances of state lawmakers serving as electors in other presidential years. 

'We will not be intimidated by such tasteless acts of the opposition.'

Hagan was replaced by one of Trump’s Ohio campaign staffers, Rob Scott. But Hagan was invited to make comments from the podium, and she seemed to answer her critics.

“We will not be intimidated by such tasteless acts of the opposition committed near or far this day. We will not fear those who wish to destroy our First Amendment right to exercise our freedom of speech. They are not guiding this electoral college. They are not within this chamber today for their ill and divisive actions have extinguished the trust formerly given to them by the people they desire to govern,” Hagan said.

A compact
There is a move afoot to try to weaken the electoral college’s impact on elections. Rep. David Leland, a former chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, is pushing a plan to get Ohio to join other states as part of a national compact.

“Under the compact, everybody agrees that they are going to cast their votes for the person who wins the largest number of popular votes, and that’s probably the way we should have done it all along,” said Leland.

Leland plans to introduce that plan again next year when the new General Assembly is seated. But it would be an uphill battle  because Republicans will have an even stronger majority in the House and Senate. Not only will Republicans control every branch of government in Ohio, they’ll control Congress, the U.S. Senate and, thanks to this vote from the electoral colleges throughout the states, Republican Donald Trump will control the White House.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.