Every Republican primary voter in Ohio will have two opportunities to vote for president, in a ballot twist that only escalates the potential confusion caused by the party’s large and fractious field of candidates. GOP ballots for the March 15 primary feature two boxes for president: one for designating an at-large presidential delegate and one for designating a district delegate. It’s a carry-over from a time when Ohio’s Republican vote was divided proportionally, rather than in the winner-take-all fashion being used in 2016. The two boxes raise obvious questions: Do voters get two votes? Can conflicted voters split their vote, or do votes for two candidates cancel each other out? If only one of the two boxes is filled in, does the person’s vote still count? Ohio never changed a requirement that both boxes be listed, and the secretary of state’s office says both will also tallied. But the Ohio Republican Party says only one will count.
“Because there are two pathways to selecting delegates to represent Ohio at the convention, voters must vote twice — once for the congressional district delegate and once for delegate at-large,” said party spokeswoman Brittany Warner. “The votes that will be counted to determine the results are the delegates at-large.”
The ballot presentation has angered the American Policy Roundtable, a conservative policy group that works in the area of voter outreach and participation.
“Why give people two options for president if one doesn’t count? I don’t get it,” said Rob Walgate, the group’s vice president. “Beyond that, people are already voting in Ohio. When were they planning to tell people? Do the candidates even know about this? There are a lot of unanswered questions.”