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Editorial: What you need to know about the upcoming Ohio primary elections

The next presidential election is just nine months away on Nov. 5, and the race to choose candidates has just begun. Former President Trump is currently in the lead for the Republican Party, with 63 delegates of the 1,215 needed to secure the nomination. Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is behind with 17 delegates. The road until each party holds their conventions this summer is still long, and this election is unprecedented in numerous ways.

For us voters in Ohio, the primary election is still a month away on March 19. Participating in elections, no matter how insignificant they may seem, is vital for the functioning of any democracy, and the Editorial Board is providing you with everything you need to know to be prepared.

First, what are primaries?

Primary elections, which occur during presidential and midterm election years, allow voters to choose their preferred candidate for the general election in November. There are many different types of primary elections depending on which state you live in: closed, semi-closed and open primaries. Closed primaries allow only registered party members to vote in that party’s primary election. So, if you want to vote on the Democratic ballot, you must be a registered Democratic voter. Semi-closed primaries allow unaffiliated voters to participate in either primary, whereas registered party members can only participate in their party’s primary. Lastly, open primaries allow all voters regardless of party affiliation to vote on either ballot—Ohio is one such example.

Primary elections are not just for presidential candidates; all elected positions appear on the ballot, including House and Senate seats and even gubernatorial cabinet positions. All 15 House seats are up for grabs this November, as well as Senator Sherrod Brown’s seat, which will be a major battleground as both parties vie for control of the Senate. Brown will be on the Democratic ballot and three Republicans will be on the Republican ballot, including Ohio’s own Secretary of State, Frank LaRose.

For a full breakdown, Ballotpedia offers a comprehensive list of all the candidates and positions up for election in Ohio. Additionally, the Ohio Secretary of State website allows registered voters to view a sample ballot for their county of residence, which for Case Western Reserve University is Cuyahoga County.

Aside from the positions up for election this March and November, it’s important to note the context behind this year’s presidential election. Both presumptive nominees for the presidency are the eldest the U.S. has ever seen. If reelected, President Biden will be the first octogenarian president at 82 years old—Trump is only four years behind. As such, age has become a focal point: According to a New York Times and Siena College poll from last fall, 71% of voters in five of the most important battleground states agreed that Biden was too old to be president; 39% said the same for Trump.

Age alone should never be a reason to vote for or against someone, and no candidate should have their mental competence doubted based on their age. Anyone, regardless of when they are born, should be equally capable of holding office; however, as young college students, we should all want a government that can represent us, which is the very essence of a representative democracy.

The average age of U.S. House Representatives is just about 58 years, and for the Senate that number is 65 years. Furthermore, two of the top 15 longest serving Senators—Senators Charles Grassley and Mitch McConnell—are serving right now in the 118th Congress. These trends are significant considering that voter turnout for young Americans lagged behind older votes in 2020 by 25%.

Voting is an opportunity for Americans, and especially us college students, to have our voices heard. We should all participate whenever we can because the more we do, the more our leaders on Capitol Hill will have to represent what we want. And maybe in the future, when we get to the stages in our lives when we can run for elected office, we can make the changes that we want to see in the world.

Most importantly, don’t forget to register to vote. The deadline for the March 19 primary elections is on Feb. 20. You can register to vote online at the Secretary of State website. Early in-person voting begins on Feb. 21. We at The Observer all hope that you can make it to the polls and participate in the democratic process.

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Unsigned editorials are typically written by the opinion editor but reflect the majority opinion of the senior editorial staff.

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