The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Ohio is a semi-open primary

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See: Pennsylvania is a closed primary – March 24 deadline to change party

Can Republicans vote in Ohio’s Democrat presidential primary?

According to the Ohio Secretary of State’s website:

How do I establish which political party’s ballot I am entitled to vote?
“You may vote the primary ballot of the political party with which you currently wish to be affiliated. If you voted the primary ballot of a different political party in 2005 or 2006, you will complete a statement at your polling place confirming the change in your political party affiliation.”

Switching party affiliation on primary election day, at polling place.

I would expect that poll workers, being political critters by nature, will not like Republicans or independants voting in the Democrat primary election, and they may try to throw sand into the gears.


Here’s how it works, as best I can figure:

1. A registered Ohio voter goes to the appropriate primary election voting place, with the required personal identification.

2. A poll worker will ask if you want a Republican or a Democrat ballot.

3. The poll worker checks which party primary you voted in last time, and if it is not the same party as you are asking to vote in this time, you may be challenged. If you are not challenged, then there should be no problem.

4. If you wish to switch party affiliations, say so.

5. You will be given a form, either Form 10-X or Form 10-W, which you must fill out and sign.

6. Ohio Revised Code 3513.20 Effect of challenge to voter at primary, states in part:

“Before any challenged person shall be allowed to vote at a primary election , the person shall make a statement, under penalty of election falsification, before one of the precinct officials, blanks for which shall be furnished by the board of elections, giving name, age, residence, length of residence in the precinct, county, and state; stating that the person desires to be affiliated with and supports the principles of the political party whose ballot the person desires to vote; and giving all other facts necessary to determine whether the person is entitled to vote in that primary election. The statement shall be returned to the office of the board with the pollbooks and tally sheets . . . . ”


A mere pro forma change of parties is not contemplated by the statute, but I don’t want to get into a discussion of what the meaning of ‘principles’ is.

According to the The Democratic Party web site, the party’s principles are:

  • Honest Leadership & Open Government,
  • Real Security,
  • Energy Independence,
  • Economic Prosperity & Educational Excellence,
  • A Healthcare System that Works for Everyone, and;
  • Retirement Security.

If you can support these principles, you can legitimately align yourself with the Democratic Party

Please remember, things frequently don’t go as they are supposed to.

Don’t panic, and don’t over-react.

– – – – – – – –

March 21, 2008 – Possible problems for malicious party switchers:  Will Rush Limbaugh Be Indicted for Voter Fraud?

“On Thursday, March 20, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that the “Cuyahoga County Board of Election has launched an investigation that could lead to criminal charges against voters who maliciously switched parties for the March 4 presidential primary.” According to the report, “One voter scribbled the following addendum to his pledge as a new Democrat: “For one day only.”

“Such an admission amounts to voter fraud,” the report continued, attributing that conclusion to BOE member Sandy McNair, a Democrat.”


Written by Tom Fox

02/20/2008 at 4:08 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I would urge some caution as to this party-switching approach. Particularly, if a voter is challenged (as mentioned above under Ohio Revised Code 3513.19 & 3513.20 by an election official) and then falsely changes political affiliation by filling out Form 10-X, she may be subject to a fifth degree felony under Ohio Revised Code 3599.36 (below).

    I’m not saying that the penalty is necessarily enforceable, primarily due to problems of determining subjective voter intent, but under the spirit, if not the letter of the law, it’s possible. Also, I’ve never heard a story of someone being charged for such actions, and a broad reading of the Democratic Party principles above could allow anyone, even ardent Republicans, to vote as Democrats. Nonetheless, erring on the side of caution, I’d say it’s best to remain genuinely attached to one’s party affiliation.

    This individual seems to take a more hard-line approach to the subject:

    3599.36 Election falsification.

    No person, either orally or in writing, on oath lawfully administered or in a statement made under penalty of election falsification, shall knowingly state a falsehood as to a material matter relating to an election in a proceeding before a court, tribunal, or election official, or in a matter in relation to which an oath or statement under penalty of election falsification is authorized by law, including a statement required for verifying or filing any declaration of candidacy, declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate, nominating petition, or other petition presented to or filed with the secretary of state, a board of elections, or any other public office for the purpose of becoming a candidate for any elective office, including the office of a political party, for the purpose of submitting a question or issue to the electors at an election, or for the purpose of forming a political party.

    Whoever violates this section is guilty of election falsification, a felony of the fifth degree.

    Every paper, card, or other document relating to any election matter that calls for a statement to be made under penalty of election falsification shall be accompanied by the following statement in bold face capital letters: “Whoever commits election falsification is guilty of a felony of the fifth degree.”


    03/01/2008 at 4:29 pm

  2. It is much more simple than this. The first principle of any political party is for its candidates to win elections to political office.

    There are many ways to support a political party, but one of the most important ways is to vote for that party’s candidate in the general election.

    There has been some talk that Republicans might vote in the Democratic primary to help select the candidate they consider to be the weaker contender in the general election. This would obviously be a case of an insincere, and likely illegal, change of party affiliation. The change was made with the idea of weakening the party, not supporting it.

    However, if a Republican is dissatisfied with the field of Republican candidates and intends to vote for the Democratic candidate in the General election, then that fact would be evidence of making a change in party affiliation with the intention of supporting the Democratic Party’s primary principle of winning elected office.

    Pennsylvania, for example, requires voters to change party affiliation at least 30 days before a primary election, whereas Indiana does not even record party affiliation in a voter’s registration. Indiana is an open primary state, where voters can participate in whichever party primary they wish.

    Ohio has chosen a middle way, where party affiliation can be changed on election day, at the polling place, when you go to vote. The State of Ohio has placed some premium on party loyalty, but not nearly as much as has Pennsylvania.

    The bottom line is, if you are a die-hard Republican who contributes time and money to the Republican Party, or who has been public and vocal about your support for Republican candidates, then don’t change party affiliation for the mis-guided purpose of making the Republican candidate’s success in the Fall more likely. Doing so would probably be a violation of Ohio criminal statutes.

    However, if you are a registered Republican who has grown dissatisfied with the direction the Republican party has taken in recent years, and if you sincerely favor one of the Democratic Presidential candidates, then you can legitimately contemplate the possibility of changing your designated party affiliation on, or before, March 4.

    If you have any lingering fear that the sincerity of your change in party affiliation might be questioned, make a small contribution to the Democratic candidate of your choice, or put up a Democratic yard sign, or talk about the reasons for your changed party affiliation with your friends and co-workers.

    I was a Republican for 23 years, and switched to the Democratic Party in 2003 because of the Iraq invasion. This does not mean that I support all Democrats, or all Democratic Party ideas. I don’t. However, I do believe that Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy is the best thing that has happened in U.S. politics in a very long time.

    Tuesday’s vote may be the most important and decisive vote of the entire election season, so if you feel strongly about this, please do not hesitate out of fear.

    If you wish to clearly establish your bona fides as a supporter of a Democratic Party candidate, download an Obama poster, have it printed out at FedX Kinko’s for $2.50, and hang it in your window. If anyone asks if you’re really a Democrat, just point to the poster.

    You can download an Obama poster here:


    03/02/2008 at 11:04 am

  3. Yes, I would agree with your assessment. If someone is sincerely switching, it’s perfectly permissible under Ohio law. And, the die-hards who switch insincerely won’t get caught anyway.


    03/02/2008 at 12:27 pm

  4. I lived in Indiana for a number of years, and Indiana is an open primary state. Overall, Indiana has been a very Republican state, but the county I lived in was dominated by the Democratic Party. County politics was so overwhelmingly Democratic that the Republican Party frequently couldn’t even field a candidate for local offices, or put up some sacrificial lamb just for show.

    It often happened that the Democratic primary for local offices was the only election there was. Fortunately, local offices were chosen in off-year elections.

    I became so accustomed to voting in the Democratic primary in local elections, and in the Republican primary during national elections, that I don’t give that type of party-switching much thought at all. It just seems natural to me.


    03/02/2008 at 1:04 pm

  5. […] Shugart e-mailed earlier today to point me to this post, which led me another post at The Learning Curve, both of which describe the rules for Ohio’s primary, which is, for all practical purposes, […]

  6. […] Primary : I was sent a private e-mail by a reader who was confused about today’s primary. This is a good write-up of what to expect. It has a slight tilt to party affiliation but it still explains the process. Now […]

  7. What if I change my mind each and every week… is that permitted or forbidden? Will the thought police be able to prove which way I was thinking on voting day?

    Next the Ohio S.O.S. office will be wanting to hire some Vulcans to do mind melds and find out what is in each of the voters’ heads.


    03/25/2008 at 11:38 pm

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