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August brings important elections in Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee

Tennessee already held its special election, but Tuesday elections in Ohio and Mississippi will set up some interesting competitions in November.
August brings important elections in Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee
Posted at 12:27 PM, Aug 07, 2023

Typically, we think of November as the big month for elections. But special elections can pop up any time, as elected officials leave office unexpectedly; and on occasion, there's some political strategy involved in scheduling an election.

Off-cycle elections, like ones scheduled in August, typically have lower turnout. And in Ohio, experts say Republicans are hoping to use that low turnout to their advantage.

"Republicans in Ohio thought that 'Hey, maybe we could squeeze this thing by with low turnout.' But actually it looks like turnout is going to be relatively decent, at least for an August election," said Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

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Ohioans are deciding whether to raise the threshold for changing the state constitution from 50% of the vote to 60%, effectively making future changes harder.

The proposal comes as Ohio is set to vote in November on whether the right to an abortion should be added to the state constitution. The few polls available show the threshold change might not be very popular.

"It sort of makes sense that an issue like this would be sort of unpopular," Kondik said. "Setting aside the abortion implications, you're essentially asking voters to make themselves less powerful. And that's just a difficult argument to make."

In Mississippi, voters are going to the polls Tuesday for their regularly scheduled statewide primary. On the ballot, voters will pick candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and more.

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Both Tuesday elections are setting up interesting competitions in November. The Mississippi governor's race is expected to be competitive in the fall, with Democrat Brandon Presley on track to challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves.

And the Ohio constitutional threshold will impact whether or not the state protects access to abortion.

And one August election already happened on Thursday in Tennessee. The biggest headline there: Justin Jones and Justin Pearson were both re-elected to their seats in the state House. They were expelled in April after taking part in a gun control protest on the House floor.

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