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Senate considers eliminating primaries for uncontested races

By MARC KOVAC Capital Bureau Chief Published: March 8, 2017 3:42 PM

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate has again moved legislation eliminating primary elections if races are not contested.

SB 10 passed on a vote of 32-0 and heads to the Ohio House for further consideration.

The bill would require that uncontested primary races not appear on ballots; candidates who filed for such races would automatically receive their party’s nomination.

Likewise, special primaries for open congressional seats would not take place if only one candidate qualifies to run. The bill includes additional language for handling races in which candidates die, withdraw or are disqualified.

Sen. Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) proposed the law changes following a primary in southwestern Ohio to replace Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. There was only one Democrat on the ballot for that special election, and fewer than 2,000 people voted.

“Under Ohio law, those counties that were part of that U.S. congressional district had to hold an election,” LaRose said. “They still had to get the machines out of storage, they still had to rent the space, haul them out and get the poll workers to come in early in the morning … and get everything up and running… It cost us over $200 per vote to conduct a completely a useless election.”

He added, “SB 10, very simply, saves taxpayer dollars and bolsters voter confidence.”

The Ohio Senate passed similar legislation late last year, but the House did not act on it before the end of the session.

Marc Kovac covers the Ohio Statehouse for Gatehouse Media. Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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