However, in spite of all seven ballots available, voters still cannot register as Independents. Non-affiliated candidates, as they are known in the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, are given issues-only ballots, containing only state ballot issues and local tax levies and local options. An issues-only ballot remains available.
Becky Johnston, deputy director of the Meigs County Board of Elections said candidates who file for office after the prescribed deadline for partisan primaries are called “independent,” but Independent is not a registered political affiliation in Ohio.
The upcoming primary election will be the first in which voters can register under one of seven party affiliations. Because party affiliation in Ohio is determined by the ballot cast in the primary election, voters who cast those ballots will be identified as such in the public voting rolls. While votes are cast by secret ballot, a voter’s party affiliation determined in the primary — up until now, D, R or issues only — is public record.
Changing voter registration from Democratic to Republican has always been done at the polls on primary day. It can be done that day, but voters must sign an affirmation, stating among other things they have done so of their own free will.
Such an affirmation is still required to change from Democratic to Republican and vice versa, but not to request a ballot for one of the other parties. That, Jeff Ortega of Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s office said, is because the other party ballots have not been available before now, so a change to one of those political parties could not be effectively challenged.
Election day is May 4. Registered voters can begin requesting and casting their early ballots on March 30.