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Monday, July 8, 2019

Ohio Democrats Want State's 2020 Presidential Primary Moved From St. Patrick's Day

Posted By on Mon, Jul 8, 2019 at 12:45 PM

  • Photo by Emanuel Wallace

Ohio House Democrats have asked Secretary of State Frank LaRose for more information on the 2020 presidential primary date for the state, which, as we recently learned in a tucked away section of the proposed two-year budget, is slated for March 17th, 2020, otherwise known as St. Patrick's Day.

The issues, though not major, are obvious.

It shouldn't be treated as some great scandal. The biggest hindrance will be for those who live downtown and utilize polling locations on or near the parade route. (That really could be a logistical headache. Locations like the Old Stone Church on Public Square could be closed and folks will have to make alternative arrangements.)

But for others, the timing might even be preferable. Many of the folks who attend the parade already take the day off work and should have extra time in the morning. If voting really will be harder than it would be on a normal workday, Ohio has no-excuse early voting, so folks can show up at the Board of Elections early to cast their vote. 
But it certainly merits discussion, and one benefit of Ohio's failure to pass a two-year budget on time is that this can still be tweaked to accommodate a different date.

Regardless, and for now, a whole roster of state Dems sent the following letter to LaRose.

Dear Secretary LaRose,

Unfortunately, Ohio has missed its constitutional deadline to pass a two-year state budget. The only silver lining of this situation is that the legislature has an additional short time to reconsider and remove a last-minute provision in the budget bill: the movement of the 2020 presidential primary election to March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. We urgently need information from your office about the impacts of this rushed and possibly reckless change.

St. Patrick’s Day is a huge day of celebration in our districts and we are very concerned about the effect this will have on people’s ability to vote that day. Our families, friends and neighbors will be celebrating starting with breakfast, a parade, luncheons and events throughout the day.

People who otherwise would have been poll workers may have an annual commitment to help with St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Buildings that otherwise would have served as polling locations may have events planned for the holiday instead.

Secretary LaRose, we respectfully request that your office provide the legislature with the following information:

1. Was your office consulted before this change was made to the budget bill?
2. How many polling places in the state will be unavailable for use if the primary is moved to St. Patrick’s Day?
3. How many Ohioans will have to reconsider being a poll worker because of their other community commitments on St. Patrick’s Day?
4. How many polling places will be difficult or impossible to reach because of road closures?
5. How many parking spaces will be lost to St. Patrick’s Day events, making it harder for voters to access the polls?
6. How will road closures and preparations in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day parades and events affect early voting and access to voting locations?

We know our constituents want to do their civic duty and vote, but they should not be forced to sacrifice their traditions with friends and family because of an ill-conceived change to the election calendar. Nor should those who don't celebrate be blocked from their polling places by festivities that may close roads and polling places.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to receiving the information from your office that will allow us as lawmakers to make an informed decision.

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