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Secretary of State Says Polls Ready for Congressional Special Primaries Tuesday

A hand holds an Ohio Voted sticker outside a polling site
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
The special primary election is tomorrow to fill former Congresswoman Marcia Fudge's seat in the U.S. House representing Cleveland and parts of Akron.

Ohio's 11th Congressional district is one of two currently without a representative. Marcia Fudge vacated the seat to become Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. A special primary on Tuesday is a step toward filling her seat and the 15th district seat, which Steve Stivers left in May to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

In the 11th district on Tuesday, voters will decide who will move on to the November 2 general election from a field of 13 Democrats and two Republicans.

Voters registered by the July 6 deadline are eligible to cast a ballot in-person at their precinct location Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

If voters requested an absentee ballot by Saturday's deadline it must be postmarked ballots by end of the day Monday. If it's not, the absentee ballot can be turned in at the county board of elections office by 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose says that despite concerns of low voter turnout, there are encouraging signs of Ohioans taking advantage of mail-in voting options, particularly in Cuyahoga County.

Special primary for Ohio Congressional seats
Secretary of State Frank LaRose says absentee voting is becoming more popular
photo of Frank LaRose

“A lot of Ohioans tried voting by mail for the first time, by absentee, last year in our record-breaking 2020 election, and I think they found the experience to be convenient and secure. So I think for many Ohioans it’s going to form a long-term habit.”

Two candidates who are frontrunners in the Democratic field for the 11th district seat are Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown and former State Sen. Nina Turner. Turner currently leads Brown by five points, according to a poll taken in early July by the Mellman Group.

Safety at the polls is also a main concern for officials. According to the Ohio Department of Health's COVID-19 Dashboard, Cuyahoga County ranks second in the state in total cases of the virus and the CDC classifies spread in the county as substantial, so it recommends mask-wearing indoors.

LaRose says polling locations in the 11th and 15th districts will encourage safety, but masks will not be required.

Safety at the polls
LaRose says masks not required
Voting Machines

"They'll have hand sanitizer available, they're creating barriers between voters and poll workers and abiding by social distancing."

As of last Friday, 6 percent of 11th district voters in Cuyahoga County and nearly 4 percent in Summit County have requested mail-in ballots.

Mason Lawlor is a senior studying journalism at Kent State University, with a minor in entrepreneurship. He has been a reporter for The Kent Stater for three semesters covering sports and the city of Kent.