Democrats want to stop effort to move Ohio’s presidential primary to St. Patrick’s Day in 2020

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 6: Voting stickers lay on a table at the Kings Art Center November 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Recent polls show U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race. (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 155697219
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 6: Voting stickers lay on a table at the Kings Art Center November 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Recent polls show U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race. (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 155697219

Latest developments: Democratic members of the Ohio House sent a letter to Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose wanting to know how moving the state’s presidential primary to St. Patrick’s Day next year could impact voters.

Republicans inserted an item in the state budget bill that would move the primary to March 17.

“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,” the letter said.

The Democrats have asked LaRose to answer the following questions:

  1. Was your office consulted before this change was made to the budget bill?
  2. How many polling places in the state will be unavailable for use if the primary is moved to St. Patrick's Day?
  3. How many Ohioans will have to reconsider being a poll worker because of their other community commitments on St. Patrick's Day?
  4. How many polling places will be difficult or impossible to reach because of road closures?
  5. How many parking spaces will be lost to St. Patrick's Day events, making it harder for voters to access the polls?
  6. 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?

Earlier story: Ohio may move its presidential primary to March 17 in 2020 to comply with new rules set by the Republican National Committee.

Embedded in the 3,000-plus page state budget bill is language to move the primary to March 17, 2020, instead of March 10. The change is being made to comply with a GOP cut off for states that want their delegates to be awarded on a winner-take all basis. States that hold primaries earlier than March 15 will award Republican delegates on a proportional basis.

The plan to bump Ohio’s presidential primary to St. Patrick’s Day in 2020 isn’t going over well with some Democrats, particularly in Cleveland where a big celebration is held on March 17, said state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire.

“We don’t like the election day on St. Patrick’s Day,” Cera said. “I’m 24 percent Irish. It’s a holiday…Cleveland has a big St. Patrick’s Day party so some people are concerned.”

Voters are allowed to cast absentee ballots for weeks ahead of Election Day, which would keep their calendar clear for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

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“We have really good early voting laws. We encourage people, if they have prior commitments, to early vote,” said Evan Machan, spokesman for the Ohio Republican Party.