by Todd DeFeo
Democratic lawmakers from Cuyahoga County are seeking information about a “possibly reckless change” that moved the 2020 presidential primary to St. Patrick’s Day.
Nine lawmakers from the Cleveland area sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose regarding the change of date from March 10 to March 17.
The move is in the biennial state budget, which is pending before state legislators. State lawmakers did not agree on a state budget by the June 30 deadline but instead passed a 17-day extension, and Democrats hope to change the date of the primary before the final budget passes.
“The only silver lining of this situation is that the legislature has an additional short time to reconsider and remove a last-minute provision in the budget bill: the movement of the 2020 presidential primary election to March 17, St. Patrick’s Day,” the lawmakers wrote.
“We urgently need information from your office about the impacts of this rushed and possibly reckless change,” they added. “St. Patrick’s Day is a huge day of celebration in Cleveland and in our districts and we are very concerned about the effect this will have on people’s ability to vote that day.”
Among the questions lawmakers asked is whether any legislators consulted with LaRose before making the primary date change, whether polling places will be unavailable for use as polling locations and whether state residents will not work as poll workers because of their other community commitments on St. Patrick’s Day.
In an email, Maggie Sheehan, a spokesperson for LaRose, said, “The letter is under review.” A spokesperson for Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, declined comment.
“People who otherwise would have been poll workers may have an annual commitment to help with St. Patrick’s Day festivities,” the lawmakers wrote. “Buildings that otherwise would have served as polling locations may have events planned for the holiday instead.
“We know our constituents want to do their civic duty and vote, but they should not be forced to sacrifice their traditions with friends and family because of an ill-conceived change to the election calendar,” they added. “Nor should those who don’t celebrate be blocked from their polling places by festivities that may close roads and polling places.”
State Reps. Bride Rose Sweeney, D-Cleveland; Stephanie Howse, D-Cleveland; Kent Smith, D-Euclid; Janine Boyd, D-Cleveland Heights; Phil Robinson, D-Solon; Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood; Juanita Brent, D-Cleveland; Jeff Crossman, D-Parma; and Terrence Upchurch, D-Cleveland, signed the letter to LaRose.
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Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.