Top 10 things for voters in Clark, Champaign counties to watch in this election

Clark County residents wait outside the Clark State Performing Arts Center to vote early Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Clark County residents wait outside the Clark State Performing Arts Center to vote early Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

This unprecedented election season has been anything but predictable. Amid a pandemic, Americans have shattered early voting records.

Besides a highly anticipated presidential race, all of the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 33 U.S. Senate seats, all 99 Ohio House seats and 16 of the 33 Ohio Senate seats are on the ballot. Several local candidates and issues are also before voters.

Here are 10 things to watch for on Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

1. Presidential race

After four years, this highly anticipated race is back on the ballot and Ohio will play a key role in its outcome. No Republican has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio. President Donald Trump carried the state in 2016 by an 8-point margin, but a Quinnipiac University poll released last week found that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has a 5% edge over Trump.

2. Record turnout

Amid a pandemic, Americans and Ohioans have voted early in record numbers this election. Long lines might still be seen at the polls on Tuesday. Over 2 million Ohioans have already voted before Election Day but that leaves about 6 million registered voters who could show up to the polls.

Clark County Board of Elections Director Jason Baker said the county processed more than 1,000 ballots during the first weekend of early voting last weekend. He said that is more than double what was reported for the first weekend of early voting in the 2016 general election, which saw about 500 ballots processed.

Baker said he expects the trend to continue this weekend.

3. Results may take days or weeks

Election night results have never been final. But with Americans requesting mail-in ballots in record numbers, projections on that night might not be conclusive. Winners of some national, state or local races might not be clear until all the absentee and provisional ballots are counted.

4. Who will control the U.S. House and the Senate?

Currently, the Democrats control the House and the Republicans control the Senate. Whether a party comes out of this election controlling both chambers and the presidency or no party gains a trifecta will significantly impact the federal government’s ability to get things done. In the Senate, 23 Republican seats and 12 Democratic seats are up for election. In the House, all 435 seats are on the ballot.

5.. Ohio Supreme Court could flip

The Ohio Supreme Court has been in Republican control for 35 years and is expected to settle any cases that arise next year from newly drawn congressional and legislative district maps. Incumbent Republicans Justices Judith French and Sharon Kennedy face Democrats Jennifer Brunner and John P. O’Donnell, respectively. If Brunner and O’Donnell win, Democrats will occupy four of the seven seats on the court. Currently, five seats are held by Republicans.

6. Will the HB6 racketeering scandal impact Ohio legislative races?

The largest public corruption case in Ohio’s history, a $60 million bribery scandal, is casting a shadow this election over alleged perpetrator state Rep. Larry Householder and those prosecutors say he worked to get elected in 2018 using bribe money. Despite the pressure, Ohio legislators have not repealed House Bill 6, the controversial energy bailout at the center of the case.

Whether this scandal will impact the electoral chances this year of Republican representatives tied to Householder running for reelection or election to a different office like the state senate, remains to be seen. Householder faces four write-in candidates in the 72nd Ohio House District race.

7. Ohio Senate District 10 seat

ExploreRead more about the candidates for Ohio Senate District 10 seat

Two men are vying to represent residents in Ohio Senate District 10, which stretches from Beavercreek to West Jefferson and includes the City of Springfield.

State Sen. Bob Hackett, R-London, is the incumbent seeking re-election. Hackett is chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee and leads a subcommittee on Health Finance and Medicaid. He served in the Ohio House from 2009 to 2016 and as a Madison County commissioner from 2001 to 2008.

Democratic challenger Charles “Charlie” Ballard owns a small sign company in Greene County. He previously worked as a government contractor at Wright Patterson Air Force base and before that served 21 years in the U.S. Air Force.

8. Ohio House District 79 seat

ExploreRead more about the candidates for Ohio House 79 seat

A political newcomer is facing off against a seasoned statehouse incumbent for the Ohio House District 79 seat that represents a large portion of Clark County.

Democrat Cynthia Richards, who is running for her first political office and is a longtime professor at Wittenberg University, is challenging Republican Kyle Koehler, who co-runs a manufacturing business with his family and is the current Ohio house representative for the Ohio House District 79 seat.

Koehler has held the seat since being sworn into office in 2015. He is a lifelong resident of Clark County and part-owner of K.K. Tool Co. in Springfield. If re-elected, Koehler said this will be his final term in office.

Richards has served in multiple leadership positions during her time with Wittenberg, including two faculty committees. In addition to that, she said she served on the Executive Board for the Rocking Horse Community Health Center.

9. Four Clark County races

Four races for Clark County offices are on the ballot Sheriff, Clerk of Courts, Treasurer and Board of Clark County Commission.

Russell Garman is challenging incumbent Deborah Burchett for Clark County Sheriff. Burchett, a Republican, was elected sheriff in 2016 after defeating 30-year incumbent Democrat Gene Kelly.

Burchett has 38-year of law enforcement experience, including 29 years as a Clark County deputy, where she was the first female sergeant in charge of the investigation division. Prior to becoming sheriff, she was a police officer in South Vienna.

Garman has 40 years of law enforcement experience — 36 of which were served at the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Currently, he works part-time as a lieutenant at the German Twp. Police Department.

Incumbent Melissa Tuttle is facing Democrat Sheila Rice in the race for Clark County Clerk of Courts. Tuttle, a Republican, was also elected in 2016.

Tuttle has been a practicing attorney for more than six years. Prior to that, she worked in banking.

Rice works as a realtor for Coldwell Banker Heritage and as a property appraiser for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. She is also a small business owner of The L, a local event center.

Michelle Harris, a Democrat who was appointed as Clark County Treasurer in June after her predecessor retired, is squaring off against Republican Pam Littlejohn.

Harris served as deputy treasurer for the county for 18 years. Littlejohn, who recently retired, spent over 40 years in the local private financial sector working with PNC Bank.

Republican incumbent Board of Clark County Commission member Lowell McGlothin is facing a challenge from Democrat David Hartley.

McGlothin was elected commissioner in 2016. He previously served on the New Carlisle City Council for 17 years as well as the city’s mayor for four years. He also worked in farmers' insurance for 30 years and retired from the business after being elected commissioner.

Hartly served as county commissioner for 10 years before resigning in 2015. He has also worked at International Harvester and was the director of Interfaith Hospitality Network and served on the Clark County Board of Elections.

10. Urbana Charter amendments

ExploreRead more on the ballot issues

Voters in the city of Urbana are weighing in on eight amendments to the city’s charter.

The proposed amendments include dealing with how the mayor’s office and city council vacancies are filled, how salaries for mayor and council are determined, and who would be required to approve the removal of the Director of Law and Director of Finance from their positions.

Election Day

Nov. 3: Election Day. Polls open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Voters are able to drop off absentee ballots at their county board of elections office until 7:30 p.m.

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