State Official: More Money Needed for Ohio Primary Elections

Frank LaRose of Ohio
by J.D. Davidson


Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose wants more money from the General Assembly to conduct the state’s May 3 primary after continued delays in creating new district maps increased pressure on county boards of elections.

LaRose, who also is a member of the Ohio Redistricting Commission that twice had maps thrown out by the Ohio Supreme Court, also ordered county boards to start taking steps to place candidates for the General Assembly on the ballot, even though the court has yet to approve a third set of maps passed late last week.

“The General Assembly has the legal authority to set the time, place, and manner of our elections, and they’ve made it clear that the state House and Senate contests will be placed on the May 3 ballot,” LaRose said. “I’ve also communicated to the legislative leaders the risks associated with rushing this process. Elections officials across Ohio are concerned about the compressed timeline for candidate certification, ballot preparation and the programming and testing of voting equipment.”

The GOP-dominated Ohio Redistricting Commission passed its third set of state legislative maps late Thursday, a week after missing a court-ordered deadline.

Just before passage, the Court ordered  all seven members of the commission to appear before it in person Tuesday for a hearing regarding its failure to comply with the court’s Feb. 7 order to create new, proportional maps.

The court, over the weekend, continued that hearing.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, and House Speaker Bob Cupp, R-Lima, told LaRose in a letter late last week the primary will be May 3. That followed letters from LaRose and Attorney General Dave Yost, asking lawmakers to move or split the primary.

LaRose has not said how much more money he needs for the primary, but he expects county boards to deal with unbudgeted personnel and additional supply costs to meet deadlines more quickly.

Congressional districts also have been declared unconstitutional, and the commission is in the middle of a 30-day window to redraw those for court approval. If the county where a candidate has filed changes because of new districts, LaRose said county boards have authority to transfer the filing to a new county.

LaRose also asked the U.S. Department of Defense for a waiver to prepare and send ballots to military voters and their families overseas.

“As I told the legislative leaders, I’m very concerned that the compressed timeline of this election will impact the ability of our boards of elections to get these ballots by March 18th,” LaRose said. “As a combat veteran myself, I know what it’s like to cast a ballot from the battlefield, and I’m determined to make sure these delays back home don’t deprive our brave men and women a vote. I’m confident the Defense Department will work with us to mitigate these unprecedented circumstances.”

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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Ohio General Assembly” by Urban~commonswiki CC BY-SA 3.0.


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