Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Ohio Presidential Primary Postponed Until June 2

After a day of back and forth on Monday, March 16, the St. Patrick's Day Ohio presidential primary has been postponed until June 2, moving the election back 11 weeks on the presidential primary calendar.

With the threat of the spread of coronavirus spiking, both Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R-OH) asked an Ohio court for the authority to shift the primary election to June in order to minimize the potential for further community transmission. But the court rejected that plea later Monday only to have Governor DeWine have the Ohio health director order the polls closed on Tuesday. An early Tuesday morning challenge to that health order was rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court.

As it stands now, then, voters in Ohio will continue to be able to vote absentee in the consolidated primary election (including the presidential nomination races) and will have an in-person option on June 2. This is not the first time the Ohio presidential primary has been scheduled in June. There is a history there. The Ohio primary was on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June in 1976, 1980 and again in 1992. There was even a period in 2011 when the Ohio presidential primary was scheduled for June as well because of redistricting uncertainty in the Buckeye state. [It was later shifted to Super Tuesday 2012 when the redistricting issues were resolved.]

But Ohio joins Georgia and Louisiana (and likely Puerto Rico) in changing their presidential primary dates amid the coronavirus crisis. However, Ohio followed a route to change that while it also involved the secretary of state (as in Georgia and Louisiana) also involved the courts in the state. That exchange had much to do with the timing. DeWine and LaRose were acting with much less time than Georgia and Louisiana were. The previously moved states had more of a window in which to act before their primaries occurred. In Ohio, it was only mere hours before the voting was set to commence that a final decision was made.

Given the way the Ohio Democratic delegate selection process works, however, that part of the delegate selection plan will not be affected all that much. District delegates were slated by the active campaigns back on January 7 in pre-primary district caucuses. In other words, all of the district delegate slots were filled by each campaign (or attempts were made in any event) then, and any allocated district delegate slots from the primary would be filled from those slates.

Whenever the primary is.

That minimizes the impact the primary change will have on the Democratic delegate selection process in Ohio. Furthermore, the statewide delegates -- PLEO and at-large delegates -- are not chosen in a caucus/convention process that would require repeated potential face-to-face gatherings over the next few months that would risk opening up participants to infection. Instead, it is the Ohio Democratic Party executive committee that is tasked in the party's delegate selection plan with selecting those delegates. That, too, minimizes to potential for further spread.

The only catch is that that statewide delegate selection is currently scheduled to take place on May 9. That would obviously precede the presidential primary on June 2. Either that May 9 meeting would be moved to after the presidential primary or slates of delegate candidates will be selected for each of the active campaigns at that point in May. Later, after the primary and allocation, those slots would be filled with people from those previously chosen slates.

But again, unlike other states, those are issues around which the Ohio Democratic Party can work without fear of any further repercussions from coronavirus.

The Ohio presidential primary date change has been added to the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

Related Posts:
Ohio Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill to Transition to Absentee Vote-By-Mail in Presidential Primary

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