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Akron petition would let voters decide if city primaries should be moved from September to May

August 7, 2018

Akron petition would let voters decide if city primaries should be moved from September to May

AKRON, Ohio - Registered voters who want the city’s September primaries moved to May can sign a petition being circulated by Mayor Dan Horrigan.

To find out where to sign, visit the Let Akron Vote Facebook page. With enough signatures from registered voters, the petition will put the issue on ballots in the November general election.

Summit County is one of three of Ohio’s 88 counties, along with Cuyahoga and Lucas, that still hold September primaries. Cuyahoga Falls, Tallmadge, New Franklin, Green, Norton and Barberton also are considering making the move, which, if approved by their councils, would mean all Summit County cities hold primaries in May.

The city outlined three advantages to moving the primary to May:

To save money – The Summit County Board of Elections charges the cost of the elections back to the cities, which divide the costs based on number of precincts. Holding the local primary election at the same time as the state primary in May could save Akron about $83,000 every primary election year. The savings increase as more Summit County municipalities move to May.

To increase voter turnout – Voters turn out in higher numbers in May than in September, with Akron’s turnout in the past several elections averaging 46 percent more than in September.

To bring the BOE into compliance with state law - The law mandates the BOE provide military and overseas voters with ballots 45 days before an election - for both primary and general elections. Those elections are 56 days apart, but it takes 11 days to certify a race. After a September primary, complete ballots can’t be sent to voters for the general election in time to meet the 45-day requirement. Instead overseas voters receive partial ballots. Once all races are certified, a complete ballot is mailed to them. Voters receiving two ballots often don’t send back a complete ballot, the BOE said.

In July, the issue went before Akron City Council, where a “super majority” of nine votes rather than seven was needed to put it before voters. Any issue that would change the city’s charter requires the higher number of votes.

With only eight of 13 council members voting to approve putting the issue on the ballot, Horrigan opted to circulate petitions.

The city needs to collect valid signatures from 4,213 registered city voters, which is the equivalent of 10 percent of voters who cast ballots in the last general municipal election.

According to the BOE, the city needs to gather many more than the required number, because some signers will not be registered and will be invalidated.

The city also needs to move quickly.

The completed petition with all signatures validated must be submitted to the BOE at least 60 days before the Nov. 6 election.

Over the next three weeks, volunteers will have the petitions at public events, and are going door-to-door, to collect signatures.

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