The Ohio House and Senate voted Wednesday to move the 2020 presidential primary to St. Patrick’s Day as part of the state budget.
The issue is now up to Gov. Mike DeWine.
The Republican who is Ohio’s elections chief says the state can handle having its presidential primary on St. Patrick’s Day next year if lawmakers make that change in the still-unsettled state budget.
The proposed move from March 10 to March 17 drew objections from some Democratic lawmakers, particularly from the Cleveland area, which has one of the nation’s biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades. They say the change could hamper voting and poll worker availability.
“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,” the letter said.
In a letter responding to them, Secretary of State Frank LaRose noted that Ohio has four weeks of early voting and that Arizona, Florida and Illinois also are having their primaries on the unofficial holiday.
The Ohio Republican Party says it sought to change the election date in response to national GOP rules on awarding delegates.
Earlier story: Ohio may move its presidential primary to March 17 in 2020 to comply with new rules set by the Republican National Committee.
Embedded in the 3,000-plus page state budget bill is language to move the primary to March 17, 2020, instead of March 10. The change is being made to comply with a GOP cut off for states that want their delegates to be awarded on a winner-take all basis. States that hold primaries earlier than March 15 will award Republican delegates on a proportional basis.
The plan to bump Ohio’s presidential primary to St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 isn’t going over well with some Democrats, particularly in Cleveland where a big celebration is held on March 17, said state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire.
“We don’t like the election day on St. Patrick’s Day,” Cera said. “I’m 24 percent Irish. It’s a holiday…Cleveland has a big St. Patrick’s Day party so some people are concerned.”
Voters are allowed to cast absentee ballots for weeks ahead of Election Day, which would keep their calendar clear for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
“We have really good early voting laws. We encourage people, if they have prior commitments, to early vote,” said Evan Machan, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party.
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.