Friday, September 2, 2011

Facing a Move Back to March, Ohio Legislature Set to Introduce Stand Alone Legislation to Keep Presidential Primary in May

The Associated Press reported last night that the Ohio legislature is prepared to introduce legislation to move the Buckeye state presidential primary to May. Now, if you have been reading FHQ at all during 2011, you probably know that Ohio has already moved its primary to May. Yeah, I did a double take too and then thought that the story was an accidental reprint from May. It isn't.

Some space has recently been devoted to describing Ohio Democrats' efforts to place a challenge to the recently-passed elections overhaul legislation on the ballot in 2012. That effort now includes a complete overturning of the newly-enacted law which also contains a provision moving the Ohio presidential primary to May. If Ohio Democrats are successful in gathering the necessary number of signatures on their petition, the elections law would be put on hold until the voters have a chance to vote on the matter in November 2012. That means that the presidential primary would move back to March. To head off that potential conflict Ohio state legislators of both parties are ready to introduce a stand-alone bill with the sole purpose of shifting the primary to May.


In terms of the timeframe for the bill, the legislature is scheduled to have a couple of "if needed" session days on September 13 and 14 and are back in session on September 20 and 21 with a committee hearing day slated for September 22.

The net effect of this is next to nothing since the primary is likely to stay on May 8. Still, this is an interesting footnote to the evolution of the 2012 presidential primary calendar. Along with Missouri, the lesson from Ohio seems to have been a warning to state legislatures: placing presidential primary moves  in sweeping election overhauls at your own risk (especially if the remaining elections changes are controversial and the primary move is necessary).

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