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Akron City Council to hold special meeting on proposed move to May primaries

August 29, 2018

Akron City Council to hold special meeting on proposed move to May primaries

AKRON, Ohio – Akron City Council has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday, Sept. 4 at 5 p.m. to address petitions calling for the city to move its primary elections from September to May.

Council president Margo Sommerville called for the meeting Wednesday, two days after Mayor Dan Horrigan submitted the petitions to the Summit County Board of Elections. 

If the petitions contain enough valid signatures from Akron voters, City Council will vote on an ordinance that would put the proposal before voters in the General Election in November.

Horrigan delivered more than 9,000 signatures, more than twice the 4,213 valid signatures needed to put the issue on the ballot. That’s the equivalent of 10 percent of voters who cast ballots in the last general municipal election.

Horrigan and the elections board want the primary moved from September to May for several reasons. The city would save money, since most communities hold their primaries in May and participating cities share the costs. May primaries also bring out more voters, the city has said.

The move also would bring the elections board into compliance with state law, which mandates the board provide military and overseas voters with ballots 45 days before any election.

A September primary does not leave the elections board with enough time to meet the deadline for sending complete ballots overseas. Those voters now receive partial ballots until races are certified. Complete ballots are then mailed to them, which often confuses voters, elections board representatives have said.

Some City Council members have opposed the move to May, and are now circulating petitions to have another option placed on ballots in November.

Ward 4 Councilman Russel Neal Jr. and Ward 2 Councilman Bruce Kilby want to eliminate primaries completely and instead hold nonpartisan general elections.

Summit, Cuahoga and Lucas counties are Ohio’s only counties that still hold September primaries. Cuyahoga Falls, Tallmadge, New Franklin, Green, Norton and Barberton also are considering making the move to May primaries.

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