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Akron voters to decide in November whether to change primary date to May

September 4, 2018

Akron voters to decide in November whether to change primary date to May

AKRON, Ohio – Akronites will decide in November whether the city’s primary elections will be held in May, or remain in September.

Akron City Council approved the measure at a special meeting on Tuesday.

All but one of the council members in attendance voted to put the issue on November ballots, with Ward 4 Councilman Russel Neal Jr. abstaining. Linda Omobien, at-large, and Tara Samples, Ward 5, were not in attendance.

Neal and Ward 2 Councilman Bruce Kilby have pushed for a nonpartisan General Election in November. They contended May primaries are more difficult for less-well-funded candidates who need the summer months to campaign.

Mayor Dan Horrigan, Council President Margo Sommerville and Council Vice President Jeff Fusco spearheaded the move to May, citing cost savings and increased voter turnout. The move also will bring the Summit County Board of Elections into compliance with state law by allowing the board to get complete ballots to overseas voters within a 45-day deadline after a primary.

Moving the primary date is a change to the city’s charter, so it must be approved by voters. To put the issue before voters, signatures needed to be collected from 10 percent of residents who voted in last city-wide general election.

Earlier Tuesday, the mayor’s office announced the elections board had validated 6,109 of the 9,188 signatures gathered. Only 4,213 signatures were needed.

In Summit County, Tallmadge, Green and Cuyahoga Falls are poised to approve putting the issue on ballots this week, Fusco said. If New Franklin, Norton and Barberton also make the move, every city in Summit County will hold May primaries.

Many Akron residents told those circulating petitions that they appreciated the benefits of moving the primary date, Fusco said.

“It seemed as though what they liked the most was the expectation of having a higher turnout and more people participating,” he said. “That’s what excited the petition-signers more than anything.”

Of 88 counties in Ohio, only three have cities with September primaries -- Summit, Cuyahoga and Lucas.

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