Ohio Republicans Can Vote Twice, Except Maybe If It's For Santorum

As the GOP presidential primary settles into a potentially long slog, it's the delegate rules that count.

They worked in former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum's favor in Michigan, where he lost the statewide popular vote but almost tied rival Mitt Romney in delegates. That's because Michigan awarded most of its delegates based on who won in each congressional district, not statewide. (Updated at 7:08 p.m.: Michigan has changed its delegate allocation to 16 for Romney and 14 for Santorum, instead of 15 each.)

Looking forward to Super Tuesday, the battleground prize of Ohio also awards most of its delegates based on congressional district (three for each of the 16 districts, from a total of 66). But Ohio Republicans actually get to vote twice — they'll pick one presidential candidate in a statewide "at-large" vote and then pick one for their district.

In most cases, the slate of candidates to choose from will be the same for both. But in three districts, voters won't be able to pick Santorum more than once.

That's because, as NPR's David Welna reported, Santorum failed to file a slate of delegates in those three districts — "a move that could alone cost him nine delegates."

We wanted to see what that would look like from a voter's point of view, so we headed to the Carroll County, Ohio, website. Carroll County is in Ohio's 6th District, one of the three in question. Its Board of Elections offers sample ballots, so we picked the first precinct listed, Augusta, and checked out its Republican ballot.

Santorum appears in the "For Delegates-at-Large and Alternates-at-Large to the National Convention" section, but he's missing from the second presidential primary section, "For District Delegates and District Alternates to the National Convention (6th District)."

So it's possible that Santorum could win the "statewide" vote in some areas, but lose out on district delegates. A huge deal? Maybe not, but if the count is close, it sure could sting.

(And, of course, Santorum and Newt Gingrich are also missing out on getting any of Virginia's 49 delegates on Super Tuesday, because they failed to qualify for the ballot there.)

The Canton Repository has more details about Ohio's delegate process.

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