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AP Decision Notes: What to expect in Ohio’s special congressional election

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s allies could soon add another House member to their ranks, as Ohio voters head to the polls in a district the Republican former president carried comfortably in 2020.

Republican Bill Johnson served in Congress for more than a decade before resigning in January, leaving a vacancy in a district that has a track record of electing Republicans. In March, primary voters selected two nominees to send to Tuesday’s special general election: Republican Michael Rulli and Democrat Michael Kripchak.

Johnson won his last four elections by more than 30 percentage points, and Trump carried the district by roughly 30 percentage points in 2020. Rulli is campaigning as a supporter of Trump, running an ad in which he introduces himself as an “America-first conservative” and “pro-Trump delegate.” Plus, Rulli had spent more than $600,000 as of the last Federal Election Commission filing deadline, while Kripchak had spent less than $8,000.

Here’s a look at what to expect on Tuesday:

SPECIAL GENERAL ELECTION DAY

The special general election will be held on Tuesday. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. ET.

WHAT’S ON THE BALLOT

The Associated Press will provide coverage for the unexpired term in the 6th Congressional District.

DECISION NOTES

The first results that Ohio releases will likely be from ballots cast before Election Day, both by mail and early in person. In past races, those votes have been the most favorable for Democrats. Republicans have been more likely to vote on Election Day, so early results might not reflect the eventual outcome of the election.

Rulli won the Republican primary with a strong performance in the northern tip of the district — Mahoning and Columbiana counties — even as his two GOP competitors carried the rest of the counties in the district.

The AP does not make projections and will declare a winner only when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. If a race has not been called, the AP will continue to cover any newsworthy developments, such as candidate concessions or declarations of victory. In doing so, the AP will make clear that it has not yet declared a winner and explain why.

The vote automatically goes to a recount if the margin is less than half a percentage point. The AP may declare a winner in a race that is eligible for a recount if it can determine the lead is too large for a recount or legal challenge to change the outcome.

WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?

As of March 12, there were 528,784 registered voters in the 6th District.

In the 2022 general election, turnout was 52% of about 536,837 registered voters.

As of Wednesday, a total of 5,497 ballots had been cast before Election Day.

HOW LONG DOES VOTE-COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?

In the 2022 election, the AP first reported results at 7:37 p.m. ET, or seven minutes after polls closed. The election night tabulation ended at 2:54 a.m. ET with about 98% of total votes counted.

ARE WE THERE YET?

As of Tuesday, there will be 147 days until the November general election.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of the 2024 election at https://apnews.com/hub/election-2024.

By LEAH ASKARINAM
Associated Press

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