COLUMBUS—State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson) recently re-introduced legislation that would save taxpayer dollars by eliminating unnecessary primary elections, for uncontested party nominations.  

Existing Ohio law requires local boards of election to hold primary elections when two or more people file to run for an office, even if only one candidate remains on the ballot after the death, withdrawal or disqualification of the other candidates. Senate Bill 10, authored by LaRose, would change the law to trigger a primary election based on the number of candidates who are certified to appear on the ballot, not the number of candidates who file. Mandating uncontested primary elections erodes public confidence in the democratic process and devalues the importance of voting.  Making this change will ensure that hundreds of staff hours are not wasted by local boards of elections who are required to administer these unnecessary uncontested primaries.

"Our county boards of elections work hard to stretch every taxpayer dollar as far as it will go to ensure efficient, fair elections," said LaRose. "Forcing them to hold uncontested primary elections is a clear waste of time and taxpayer resources. This commonsense, bipartisan bill would remove the unnecessary cost burden placed on local communities and improve efficiency in the administration of our elections."

Current law requires a special primary election be held to fill a vacancy when a party's nominee for Congress withdraws from the race or dies more than 90 days before the general election. Senate Bill 10 removes the requirement to hold a primary when only one candidate remains on the ballot and gives the Secretary of State authority to declare the sole remaining candidate as the party's nominee.

"Six counties held an uncontested election to nominate the Democratic challenger for Speaker Boehner's former seat in September of 2016," said LaRose. "The state of Ohio was forced to spend more than $340,000 in taxpayer money on this superfluous election. Secretary Husted called on the General Assembly to act to prevent this kind of wasteful spending in the future, and we're responding."

Senator LaRose introduced this legislation which passed the Senate unanimously during the 131st General Assembly, but did not pass the House of Representatives. The bill was supported by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and the Ohio Association of Election Officials.
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