Only 22.65% of registered voters in Ohio cast ballots in the 2020 presidential primary, after the coronavirus pandemic prompted the election to be conducted entirely by vote-by-mail. Vice President Joe Biden won the Democratic primary after his main rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) dropped out earlier this month.

There were 1.76 million ballots tallied out of 7.77 million registered voters, according to unofficial results from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. An additional 200,000 absentee ballots are still outstanding and 44,368 voters cast provisional ballots.

This number is nearly half the rate of turnout in the 2016 primary, in which 3.3 million Ohio voters cast ballots and is similar to the rate of the 2012 primary in which 1.97 million voted.

“Our elections officials overcame great adversity. These patriotic, bipartisan teams — hundreds of men and women throughout the state — in the midst of this pandemic made sure that we had a free and fair election where every Ohioan had the chance to make their voice heard without jeopardizing their health,” Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose shortly said in a video statement posted to Twitter.

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“In our democracy, every voice matters, and every vote will be counted. And when the story of this 2020 presidential primary is told, what Ohioans should know is that we came together to make this happen,” he continued.

After Ohio shuttered their in-person voting on March 17, lawmakers passed emergency legislation to extend vote-by-mail until April 28, an extension which voting rights group argued offered little time for ballots to be printed, voters to request ballots, for them to be mailed and for voters to mail them in.

“The primary election did not have to go this way,” League of Women Voters of Ohio’s Executive Director Jen Miller told Dayton Daily News. “But the Ohio legislature decided, despite ample warning, to create adverse conditions for voters and Boards of Elections alike. At a time when Ohioans of all backgrounds are banding together amid a pandemic, sacrificing personally to flatten the curve and move forward together, it is unconscionable that the state legislature failed constituents for no good reason. We can, and must, do better.”


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