The Ohio Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit against Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose over the state’s chaotic postponement of the presidential primary.
The complaint was filed Tuesday in the Ohio Supreme Court and asks the court to prohibit LaRose from setting Ohio’s new primary date.
Gov. Mike DeWine’s dramatic last-minute effort to postpone the election due to the coronavirus pandemic was met with condemnation from both sides of the aisle. After a judge denied a lawsuit seeking to move the election, DeWine’s chief health adviser declared a public health emergency and ordered the polls to close.
That order served as the basis for LaRose’s action in “setting a later primary date,” the Ohio Democratic Party’s lawsuit states.
LaRose moved in-person voting in the primary to June 2, but the lawsuit contends that he “is patently and unambiguously without jurisdiction and legal authority to suspend, move, or set the date of Ohio’s 2020 president primary election.”
“Nothing in Ohio law provides that Respondent Secretary has the power to set the date of Ohio’s 2020 presidential primary election,” says the lawsuit. “Instead, the legal authority to set the date of Ohio’s 2020 presidential primary election rests with the Ohio General Assembly.”
The lawsuit asks the state’s high court to order LaRose to rescind his directive rescheduling the election to June 2.
“Respondent Secretary’s reliance upon factual findings and declarations of the Ohio Governor and the Director of the Ohio Department of Health to assert jurisdiction to move the date of Ohio’s 2020 presidential primary election from March 17, 2020 to June 2, 2020 was a quasi-judicial act unauthorized by law,” states the complaint.
“This primary election must move forward,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “Earlier today we said that we would litigate to defend voters’ right to fully participate in the state’s Democratic primary election, and in the absence of action by the General Assembly and with other actors moving to shut down the primary, we have filed with the Ohio Supreme Court to ensure that all eligible Ohio voters are able to exercise their right to vote in this primary.”
Pepper said the authority for setting a new election date “must come from the Legislature or from a court.”
“Today’s action seeks that court order, preserving the primary while also proposing a more workable window for the election to take place, along with multiple opportunities and a reasonable amount of time for voters to vote,” he continued. “We hope the court, governor, secretary of state, legislative leaders and other parties see the necessity of this order to preserve the right to vote and complete a fair and timely election in Ohio.”
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