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Government/Politics

Ohio's Secretary of State says it is too late to hold one primary for all races on May 3

Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks to reporters in November 2020
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Secretary of State Frank LaRose speaks to reporters in November 2020

Frank LaRose explains why.

Ohio’s Secretary of State says lawmakers must pass legislation to delay the May 3 primary for state House and Senate and for Congressional candidates. Frank LaRose says it’s too late for the current primary date to comply with the Ohio Constitution.

LaRose has been urging Ohio lawmakers to pass legislation to delay the May 3 primary. On Tuesday, he sent a letter to Legislative leaders outlining reasons why he believes a delay is in order. He says Ohio law stipulates candidates must be given 30 days to establish residency in the districts they want to run in but that’s not possible with the May 3 primary date.

“Even if new maps were passed tomorrow or the next day, even if the court very quickly approved those, that 30-day deadline goes long past the requirement to start sending out military and overseas ballots, ” LaRose says.

LaRose says federal law stipulates overseas and military ballots must go out on March 18.

If the May primary is not moved, there could be two primaries, one for statewide offices and then one for legislative and congressional candidates. Earlier this month, Aaron Ockerman with the Ohio Association of Election Officials said that would be a bad idea.

“Elections aren’t cheap. It takes resources and manpower to staff and conduct elections. There are a lot of materials that have to be purchased, whether it is ballots or polling locations and paying poll workers. And it was not cheap," Ockerman says.

Ockerman says in 2011, when lawmakers considered the possibility of conducting two elections, it was estimated that would cost around $15 million dollars. And since elections have only gotten more complex in the last 10 years, Ockerman says he thinks that number is probably low for 2022.

Ohio lawmakers have not embraced the idea of moving the primary. House Speaker Bob Cupp has indicated it would be a hard sell to move the primary date.

LaRose says if there isn't a delay for the vote on legislative and Congressional districts, he says the state is open to more litigation. But if the primary isn't moved back, he says elections officials will do all they can to make the deadline.

"Voting begins starting three weeks from now and that is the time crunch that we are operating under and to get this work done in those 3 weeks is nearly unimaginable, perhaps possible with some real amazing work from our county boards of elections," LaRose says.

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