7:30 p.m. in Licking County

Polling locations are now closed, and each location will begin a delicate, bipartisan process to deliver the election results to the county Board of Elections.

“Everything that we do has bipartisan hands and eyes on it. There’s never a time when only a Republican or only a Democrat is doing things like opening the mail or retrieving things from the vault,” Licking County BOE Deputy Director Tess Wigginton told TRP reporter Torria Catrone.

At the Licking County Board of Elections, ballots are stored in a locked room called “The Vault.” To get inside, there are two ID scanners – one for a Democrat and one for a Republican. Both people must be present to unlock the door. 

Bipartisan teams are used to deliver the ballot boxes and corresponding flash drives to the BOE once polls close.

“The tubs of the ballots along with the sticks come in with a Democrat and a Republican, usually the location managers, and they bring it straight to us, straight to our hands,” said Wigginton.

Behind glass window panes and another locked door in the BOE office are the tabulators. These computers are not connected to the internet, and are used to count up the votes stored on the flash drives from polling locations across the county. The Licking County BOE has one main machine, a backup, and a third monitor that is used specifically to report final counts to the Secretary of State Frank LaRose. All equipment has a chain of custody log to maintain security. 

“When the sticks [USBs] from the scanners come back from the locations [polling stations across the county], we’ll load them up,” said Licking County BOE Director Brian Mead. “Then, to get the results from there to the secretary of state, it’s a brand new stick. Frank La Rose has his own special purple ones,” he said.

7:20 p.m. in Newark

Stragglers are filing in to the gymnasium at Cherry Valley Elementary School just minutes before polls close at 7:30 p.m.

Cherry Valley Elementary is the polling location for nearly 10,000 registered voters — the most of any polling location in Licking County.

5:30 p.m. in Granville

Meri Schroeder, a 59-year-old registered Democrat in Granville:

Schroeder, second from left, volunteered with the Fair Districts movement during the primary election. She worked alongside several other volunteers to collect signatures in order to get the Citizens Not Politicians anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

“This was kind of my first step of dipping my toe into getting involved into politics and it just happened to be gerrymandering. The more I’m finding out about it, it seems like a first good step to getting involved in politics because the districts, from my understanding, are very skewed towards Republicans right now,” Schroeder told TRP reporter Caliyah Bennett.

Schroeder switched her voter registration from the Republican party to the Democratic party in 2017. “I still believe in a lot of things that the Republicans stand for, I just don’t believe in what that party has gone to.”

Charles McFadden, a 51-year-old registered Democrat in Granville:

“I’m an African American, and I still watch a lot of history on what [African Americans] did to vote,” McFadden told TRP reporter Jack Nimesheim. “For me, I have to vote. Outside of that, as much as people don’t want to vote, I think you still need to.”

Just like in 2020, McFadden cast a vote for Joe Biden to be the Democratic nominee for the president of the United States.

“I’m happy to vote for him. Yeah, he is older, but everyone in Washington is super old to me, and I’m not far behind them. … He’s got people that are going to help him and advise him.”

Christopher Basinger, a 41-year-old registered Republican in Granville:

“I think it’s always important to vote in the elections, regardless of if it’s a primary or general election in November,” Basinger told Nimesheim. “That’s just always been my thing: to vote in an election anytime we get a chance to do that.”

As a registered Republican, Basinger hoped to cast his ballot for Ron DeSantis, but the candidate from Florida dropped out of the race before Basinger had the chance.

“I still like all of Trump’s policies, or the vast majority of them. I just don’t like how he carries himself as president and leader of the United States. I felt like DeSantis was a better option for that, but I still like Trump and would prefer him as president over Biden right now.”

4:00 p.m. in Licking County

There are 126,442 registered voters in Licking County. Of those voters, Licking County Board of Elections Director Brian Mead anticipates about 25,000 will actually cast a vote — just one in five registered voters — during the primary on Tuesday.

“It’s been a really slow day with low turnout,” Mead said around 4 p.m., with just under four hours before polls across Ohio close.

Earlier this year, Mead predicted closer to 35,000 might turn out — about one in four registered voters — but said the lack of contested races results in more people staying home. The biggest race he pointed to was the uncontested Republican primary for U.S. president, where Donald Trump will carry the Republican vote as the sole candidate left in the race.

3:30 p.m. in Brownsville

Jason Richardson, a 50-year-old Hopewell Township resident:

“I vote in every single election,” Richardson told TRP editor Julia Lerner at the polling location in Bowling Green Township. “My grandpa told me a long time ago that it’s our civic duty once we turn 18.”

Richardson, who took the Republican ticket this election, volunteered to be an election observer for the first time this year.

“I wanted to see how it all worked, to know the ins and outs,” he explained. “I feel a little more secure [in the security of our elections], knowing the process.”

2:30 p.m. in Brownsville

Chickens cross the road near the Brownsville polling location during the March 19, 2024 primary election.

11:30 a.m. in Newark

Jon Hunt, 69 and Julie Hunt, 67, in Newark:

“We’ve been voting all our lives,” Jon told TRP reporter Andrew Theophilus. “It’s a privilege and a duty.”

Steven Bailey, a 70-year-old registered Republican in Newark:

Bailey told Theophilus he voted because it’s his “civic duty.”

“You have to step up and do things that are not convenient for all people. It took me a long time to realize how important voting is. I started noticing the direction of the country and the disconnect between voters and politicians.”

Bailey cast a vote for Donald Trump for U.S. president.

“I want someone who’s a fighter. I’ve watched these parties split the country over stupid issues and I want someone who’s going to stand there and not back up.”

Kyna Harvey, a 32-year-old in Newark:

“I voted because of the economy and immigration,” Harvey said after casting their ballot at John Clem Elementary School.

“I voted for Trump in 2020 and voted for DeSantis today because he is a better match for me. I’ve been following his career since the pandemic and feel he is the best match for me”

10:30 a.m. in Granville

Carol Apacki, an 81-year-old in Granville:

“As an active member of the League of Women Voters of Licking County, this is a way to air our voices and make change in our communities,” Apacki told TRP reporter Brin Glass while adjusting the brim of her knit hat with her purse cradled in her arm.

Bill Downey, a 69-year-old registered Republican in Granville:

“I rarely vote in primaries,” Downey told TRP reporter Noah Fishman. “I came to vote Republican to help ensure that Donald Trump is not president again. That was my sole purpose in coming.”

Carmen Blackstone, a 46-year-old registered Republican in Granville:

“I’m usually voting for a candidate, not a party,” Blackstone told TRP reporter Noah Fishman. “I didn’t vote for Trump. I voted for Nikki Haley. I also voted … against [Bernie] Moreno. I don’t want Trump back in office. That’s why I voted that way this year.”

Catherine Burczak, a 57-year-old in Granville:

“I voted because it’s a civic duty and a chance to express your voice,” Burczak told TRP reporter Brin Glass. “And I especially appreciate Ohio’s open primary so a voter can think through all options, depending on the year’s election.” 

6:30 a.m. in Licking County

Happy Election Day, Licking County! Polls are officially open at 6:30 a.m., and will remain open until 7:30 tonight.

Throughout the day, reporters from The Reporting Project will be meeting with voters at polling locations across the county, and we’ll share details and election results as soon as we have them.

Across the county, voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on several contested primary races, as well as for the president of the United States and local municipal and school levies.