Ohioans to get final say in election

CINCINNATI (AP) – After a months-long barrage of campaign commercials and candidate speeches, Ohio voters are giving their answers to all the appeals for their support.

Election day, coming after more than a month of early voting, brings an end to the intense campaign for the swing state’s 18 electoral votes.


The race between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney appeared headed to a photo finish, with the state potentially too close to call before Wednesday or left hanging while provisional ballots are counted in days ahead. Elections officials and both sides were preparing for voting challenges after a series of earlier court cases over Ohio voting this year.

Turnout was expected to be crucial, with Obama looking for big totals from northeastern Ohio and the state’s largest cities, and Romney hoping for blowouts in the suburbs and rural towns.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of major shifts, so what you’re going to be looking at is the margins,” said longtime Ohio State University political scientist Herb Asher. “In the close elections, all you need is a little bit of change to affect the outcome.”

Ohio also had one of most hotly contested and expensive U.S. Senate campaigns, with Republican state Treasurer Josh Mandel trying to unseat first-term Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. The state also has two fewer congressional districts, with population changes nationally leaving Ohio with 16. Only a handful appeared competitive, with two northeast Ohio incumbents – Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton and Republican James Renacci – facing off.

In legislative races, Democrats overall were hoping to prevent Republicans from adding to their majorities in both houses in the state capital.

Ohioans are also being asked to change the way districts are redrawn in a statewide ballot issue. Issue 2 proposes that a 12-member commission of state residents re-draw congressional and legislative maps every 10 years. Proponents say this would take an important role out of the hands of partisan politicians. Opponents say the lengthy constitutional amendment is filled with risks and unknowns, and that the commission wouldn’t be accountable.

Issue 1 asked voters if they’d like an Ohio Constitution convention to make changes but it has drawn little organized attention either way.

Ohioans also had three state Supreme Court justices on the ballot.

Justice Yvette McGee Brown of Columbus faced Republican Sharon Kennedy, a Butler County domestic relations judge. McGee Brown was appointed in 2010 to fill a vacancy left when Maureen O’Connor became chief justice. She would need to run again in two years to get a full, six-year term.

Republican Justice Robert Cupp of Lima faced Democrat William O’Neill of Cleveland, a retired appeals court judge who works as a registered nurse. And Republican Justice Terrence O’Donnell of Cleveland was challenged by Democratic state Sen. Mike Skindell of suburban Cleveland.

O’Donnell joined the court in 2003. Cupp was elected in 2006.

Voters also had a variety of local races and issues, including nearly 200 school levies as Ohio schools continue to battle tightening budgets.

The polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.