Bipartisan Bill Aims to Move Ohio’s Presidential Primary from March to May

A bipartisan group of Ohio lawmakers wants to keep the state’s primary elections at the same time every year, whether it’s a presidential election year or not. Under the introduced legislation, all primaries would take place on the first Tuesday in May.

The bill has the backing of nine co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle in the Ohio House.

Every four years, during the presidential election season, Ohio’s primary is held in March. Other statewide primaries are generally held in May, but in 1996, the Ohio Legislature changed the presidential primary to March.

Supporters of the decision to move Ohio’s primary to March argued that doing so would offer Ohioans more influence over the candidates nominated for president.

According to State Representative Dan Troy (D-Willowick), that idea is uncertain.

“Every fourth year, we schedule our primary election in mid-March, allegedly for the purposes of Ohio being more of a player in the presidential primary races. Ohio’s influence on that process has proven to be dubious at best, and it’s time to return to a normal and consistent election schedule,” Troy said.

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,” Nichols told The Star.

Troy indicated that there are several benefits of approving this change.

Candidates for all federal, state, and county offices would not have to file petitions to be on the November ballot nearly a year before that election, according to Troy.

He also said it would help eliminate potential voter confusion and offer a chance at better weather, increasing voter turnout.

Another advantage, according to Troy, of changing the presidential primary to May is a shorter political season. He claimed that after the November election of the year prior, candidates began running for government with the March primary. He asserted that changing the primary to May would shorten the election period and possibly free up more time for actual governance rather than political campaigning.

State Representative Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) told The Star that he agreed with Troy and said he supports the legislation because primary elections falling on different dates each year can be a nuisance.

“I support the bill for the same reasons my County Board of Education Director (who is also president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials) does. The moving target for presidential primaries is annoying,” Seitz told The Star.

The Ohio Association of Election Officials, a bipartisan group representing those who oversee elections in Ohio, praised the introduction of the bipartisan legislation.

“For too many years, the presidential primary has been a moving target, creating confusion for voters, poll workers, election officials, and candidates alike,” Sherry Poland, president of the Ohio Association of Election Officials said.

The proposal has been introduced to the Ohio Clerk’s Office and has not yet been assigned a bill number. ​

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Daniel P. Troy” by The Ohio House of Representatives. Background Photo “Vote Here” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.


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One Thought to “Bipartisan Bill Aims to Move Ohio’s Presidential Primary from March to May”

  1. Phil Daubel

    BS to this idea. This is nothing more than the work of Democrats and Rinos to remove the influence of Ohio from the process. What is Ohio”s record in prediciting who will be president. Come on cut the crap!!!