Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Ohio Secretary of State's Office Dismisses Need to Move Presidential Primary to May

The language of a forthcoming bill to shift the presidential primary in Ohio to May is not even public yet and there is already resistance forming to the idea.

"Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Secretary of State Frank LaRose, told The Ohio Star that voters have handled the two primary dates in the past. 'It’s up to the General Assembly to set the time, place and manner of Ohio’s elections, but voters are pretty resilient. They’ve adapted to the earlier presidential primary date just fine in past elections.'”

And that is true. Ohio voters have gone to the polls for a presidential primary in March in the last seven presidential cycles dating back to 1996. And in three of those cycles -- 2000, 2004 and 2012 -- the Ohio primary was on Super Tuesday. But Republicans in control of state government nudged the primary date back in recent years in order to adopt a true winner-take-all delegate allocation system that would comply under national party rules. 

And maintaining that combination -- early primary (that is more likely to put Ohio voters in a position to weigh in before the races are effective over) and those winner-take-all rules along with a competitive Republican presidential nomination battle in 2024 -- is likely to keep most Republicans in the legislature and behind the governor's desk from lining up in support of this legislation. 

...despite a bipartisan group sponsoring the measure to move the primary to May and the backing of election administrators across the Buckeye state, who want a uniform primary date (in May) in all even-numbered years. 

Winner-take-all allocation would be an option for Ohio Republicans in May, but the competition may (or may not) last that deep into the calendar.

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