Vote in the primaries: Why it’s important and what to look for on the ballot

A change is coming on.

Cincinnati City Hall will have a new occupant in the mayor’s office next year. After eight years in office, John Cranley is term limited and can’t run for mayor again. Six candidates are running to replace him, and in the May 4th primary, Cincinnati voters will winnow that field to two who will face off in the fall election.

This is technically a nonpartisan primary, but five of the mayoral candidates are Democrats and one is independent.

There’s also proposed changes to the city’s governing constitution — its charter — to vote on, including two related to the hot topic of city council members accused of crimes (four of the nine council members elected in 2017 have been indicted; one has pleaded guilty), and one on mandating a fund for affordable housing.

And there’s important decisions to be made in other Hamilton County locales too, including in the Indian Hill school district, which has a combined five-year operating levy and 30-year bond issue on the ballot, and in the Winton Woods district, which has an operating levy for preschool up for a vote. 

There are also municipal tax levies on the ballots in Deer Park, North College Hill, and in Silverton, where there's also a Democratic primary.

And there’s a Republican primary in Harrison.

That means a lot is hanging on the spring election.

If you’ve already made your mind up (and are already registered to vote), there’s no need to wait until May 4th.

Early, in-person voting is available at the Hamilton County Board of Elections, 4700 Smith Road, Norwood, each day before May 4th.
Until Friday April 30th, you can vote there from 8 a.m.–7 p.m.
On Saturday, May 1st, the hours are 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
On Sunday, May 2nd, the hours are 1 p.m.–5 p.m.
On Monday May 3rd, the hours are 8 a.m.–2 p.m.

Voting by mail is still possible, and every registered Hamilton County voter is eligible to vote that way. Vote-by-mail applications will be accepted by the board of elections until May 1st at noon.

Mailed-in ballots must be postmarked no later than May 3rd. At this point, however, the board of elections suggests returning them in person to the board’s office, which you can do until 7:30 p.m. on May 4. There are no other drop-off boxes for ballots.

You can track your application and your ballot online at
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading, or watching classic movies.