House Democratic lawmakers representing Cuyahoga County today sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose seeking information from his office about the impact of moving the 2020 presidential primary from March 10 to March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.
Dear Secretary LaRose,
Unfortunately, Ohio has missed its constitutional deadline to pass a two-year state budget. 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. We urgently need information from your office about the impacts of this rushed and possibly reckless change.
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. Our families, friends and neighbors will be celebrating starting with breakfast, a parade, luncheons and events throughout the day.
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.
Secretary LaRose, we respectfully request that your office provide the legislature with the following information:
- Was your office consulted before this change was made to the budget bill?
- How many polling places in the state will be unavailable for use if the primary is moved to St. Patrick’s Day?
- How many Ohioans will have to reconsider being a poll worker because of their other community commitments on St. Patrick’s Day?
- How many polling places will be difficult or impossible to reach because of road closures?
- How many parking spaces will be lost to St. Patrick’s Day events, making it harder for voters to access the polls?
- How will road closures and preparations in the days leading up to St. Patrick’s Day parades and events affect early voting and access to voting locations?
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. Nor should those who don’t celebrate be blocked from their polling places by festivities that may close roads and polling places.
Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to receiving the information from your office that will allow us as lawmakers to make an informed decision.
State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney
State Rep. Stephanie Howse
State Rep. Kent Smith
State Rep. Janine Boyd
State Rep. Phillip M. Robinson, Jr.
State Rep. Michael Skindell
State Rep. Juanita Brent
State Rep. Jeffrey A. Crossman
State Rep. Terrence Upchurch