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Bipartisan bill would move Ohio's presidential primary from March to May

Rep. Dan Troy (D-Willowick) talks to Statehouse reporters about his bill to move the presidential primary in Ohio to May
Jo Ingles
Statehouse News Bureau
Rep. Dan Troy (D-Willowick) talks to Statehouse reporters about his bill to move the presidential primary in Ohio to May

Every four years, during the presidential election season, Ohio's primary is held in March. Other statewide primaries are generally held in May but in 1996, the Ohio Legislature changed the presidential primary to March.

A Democratic state lawmaker said that's caused confusion and problems, and he wants to change that presidential primary back to May.

Rep. Dan Troy (D-Willowick) said the March presidential primary needs to go. Sometimes, he said turnout is down due to poor weather conditions. Other times, he said the presidential primary day falls on St. Patrick's Day. He said the fact that the primary for presidential years has earlier filing deadlines causes confusion for candidates and local boards of elections.

When Ohio's primary was moved to March, supporters of that change said it would give Ohioans more of a say in who becomes nominees in the presidential primaries. But Troy said it hasn't worked out that way.

“Ohio’s influence on that process in my opinion has proven to be dubious at best and it’s time to return to a normal and consistent election schedule," Troy said.

Troy said moving the presidential primary to May will have another benefit — a shorter political season. With the March primary, he said candidates start running for office right after the November election in the preceding year. He said moving the presidential primary to May would shorten the election season and potentially allow more time for governing and less time for partisan politics.

Troy has support from eight co-sponsors including one Republican — Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati). Troy said he hasn't personally gone to fellow lawmakers to talk to them about signing onto the legislation so he thinks more legislators might actually support it.

The plan has support from the the Ohio Association of Election Officials, a bipartisan group that represents those who oversee elections in Ohio. Sherry Poland, the group's president, applauded Troy for introducing the bill.

"For too many years, the presidential primary has been a moving target, creating confusion for voters, poll workers, election officials and candidates alike." Poland said.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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