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Published: Monday, 1/23/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Ohio primary likely to be fraught with confusion

New map bisects Lucas County

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER
Karen Krause, Democratic chairman of West Toledo's Ward 3, pauses at Jackman and Northover roads. Jackman is one of the dividing lines between the new 9th and 5th Congressional Districts. Karen Krause, Democratic chairman of West Toledo's Ward 3, pauses at Jackman and Northover roads. Jackman is one of the dividing lines between the new 9th and 5th Congressional Districts.
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Except for those living in the county's southwest corner, Lucas County residents have never had to wonder in which congressional district they reside.

For about 124,000 Lucas County voters, those days are over.

Thanks to the Ohio General Assembly, the county is now split down the middle, with the western part moved to the Republican-dominated 5th District and the eastern half in the solidly Democratic 9th District.

Karen Krause, Democratic Party chairman of West Toledo's Ward 3, said a lot of people don't know which congressional district they're in.

RELATED CONTENT: Lorain leaders endorse Kaptur

Ohioans will vote in the new districts for the first time in the primary election set for March 6. Early voting starts on Jan. 31.

"Even though I have a pretty good idea where the line is, I haven't gone down to party headquarters or gone online. I'll bet you that there will be lots of people saying to those poor poll workers, 'you gave me the wrong ballot,' " Ms. Krause said. "I believe there will be lots of confusion. And for some people, when they realize it, there will be anger."

Voters living in most of Toledo and the eastern half of Lucas County, along with many voters in Erie and Ottawa counties, will see the familiar name of U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) on the Democratic ballot -- along with that of U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich and businessman Graham Veysey, both of Cleveland.

On the Republican ballot for the 9th District will be Samuel L. Wurzelbacher of Springfield Township and Steven Kraus of Huron.

Voters living in Sylvania, Ottawa Hills, and Maumee, in Springfield, Sylvania, Monclova, Richfield, Spencer, and Harding townships, and in parts of West and South Toledo will vote in the 5th Congressional District.

The only Democrat on the ballot for the 5th District will be Angela Zimmann of Springfield Township. On the Republican ballot, incumbent U.S. Rep. Bob Latta of Bowling Green is opposed in the primary by Bob Wallis of Convoy, Ohio, in Van Wert County.

Although some Democrats will miss Miss Kaptur, some Republicans who have chafed under Democratic leadership for decades are happy about the switch.

"Bob's done a good job, and it's kind of nice to have him there," said Rob Ludeman, Toledo city councilman and Ward 7 Republican precinct committeeman, adding, "although I get along very good with Marcy Kaptur also."

Mr. Ludeman said the precincts that have moved to the 5th District include some of the more Republican and conservative voters of Toledo.

He doubted that there will be much confusion by the time the primary voting gets under way.

"Primary voters tend to be educated voters. They're also going to get material in the mail from the candidates. That should take a good deal of the confusion out," Mr. Ludeman said.

Although the changes have rocked the world of Ohio's politicians, who have battled in court and in the General Assembly over the precise boundaries of the congressional districts, voters so far are taking the changes in stride, leaders said.

"We haven't really had any calls about it," said Jennifer Ferback, director of the Erie County Board of Elections. "The only calls are someone who is really involved in one of the political parties and one of the candidates themselves."

In Lucas County, there have been a smattering of calls -- more likely because of the uproar that occurred over an aborted General Assembly plan that would have split Lucas County three ways.

"We have had some calls to that effect, which is to be expected," said Dan DeAngelis, deputy director of the Lucas County Board of Elections.

Similarly unconcerned voters seem to populate Ottawa, Lorain, and Cuyahoga counties as well. Elections directors in those counties said they've fielded very few phone calls from voters trying to find out what congressional district they live in.

"I think if they're thinking about it, they're thinking we'll have the right ballot for them," said JoAnn Friar, director of the Ottawa County Board of Elections. "We just haven't had calls about it."

Cuyahoga County has decided to tell registered voters by mail which congressional district -- along with Statehouse and school districts -- they reside in. The mailing will cost the county about $200,000.

"Right now, I don't think people know," said Pat McDonald, the Republican deputy director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. He said Mr. Kucinich has sent out his own mailer with a vote-by-mail attachment that voters can use to request an absentee ballot.

"But for the most part I don't think the voters know which district they're in and how they're going to be affected," Mr. McDonald said.

Lucas County has no such plans. Mr. DeAngelis said the office was planning to issue a news release in hopes the news media can get the word out.

He said about 124,000 voters in Lucas County will have a new congressional district.

Registered voters in Lucas County can use the "Poll Locator" Web site through the board of elections to identify their various districts: http://apps.co.lucas.oh.us/polllocator/. Another source of information is a list that identifies precincts by congressional district: http://co.lucas.oh.us/index.aspx?NID=1139.

And the Ohio Secretary of State's office also has a polling locator: http://www.sos.state.oh.us/SOS/pollinglocation.aspx?page=361.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.



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