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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s top elections official has paused certain preparations for the May 3 primary in the face of a third court decision invalidating GOP-drawn maps of new legislative districts.

Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose coupled a directive issued to county election boards late Thursday with a letter to the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

He said counties are now “simply out of time” to complete the work necessary to hold Statehouse elections as scheduled.

The letter reads in part:

“I regret to inform you that as a result of last night’s decision by the Ohio Supreme Court, and barring the immediate action of a federal court, our 88 county boards of elections can no longer include contests for the state House and state Senate in the May 3, 2022 primary election. Let there be no doubt, however, that we will continue to prepare for a May 3 primary election that includes statewide, congressional and local contests, unless directed to do otherwise by the Ohio General Assembly or a court order. 

The election effectively begins with the delivery of ballots to military and overseas voters. Due to the Court’s order invalidating the third Ohio General Assembly district plan, it’s no longer logistically possible to include district-specific legislative races on the ballots without federal court intervention allowing the boards to proceed as scheduled. 

After mounting a monumental effort over the last few weeks, our bipartisan elections officials were ready to conduct this election on time, as I directed. However, those boards are now left once again without clear districts to certify legislative candidates, and they’re simply out of time to complete the required work that must be done to reprogram election systems with new district data.”

Secretary of State Frank LaRose

His order prohibits counties from altering or sending ballots until further notice.

LaRose can’t change the election date himself.

That’s up to the Legislature or a federal court.