State Sen. Vernon Sykes, D-Akron, speaks with press alongside House Minority Leader Allison Russo in a February press conference. (Photo: Susan Tebben, OCJ)

BY: SUSAN TEBBEN – Ohio Capital Journal

Democrats weren’t successful in convincing the Ohio Supreme Court to change the May 3 primary date, according to a Thursday afternoon filing.

The motion was filed by House Minority Leader Allison Russo and state Sen. Vernon Sykes, both members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission, who said moving the primary date would help the commission be able to finish their work without worrying about the election deadlines.

They also said the supreme court had the “inherent” authority to force the change, despite laws that state the General Assembly controls changes to the election dates and times.

The state’s high court disagreed, firmly planting the power of election dates and times on the Ohio legislature.

Justice Patrick Fischer made a point to issue an opinion agreeing with the court decision, and emphasizing the General Assembly’s power to establish the date of the primary election, and its authority to “ease the pressure that the commission’s failure to adopt a constitutional redistricting plan has placed on the secretary of state and on court boards of elections by moving the primary election, should that action become necessary.”

Republicans who responded to the request to move the primary accused Democrats of attempting to “circumvent the power of the General Assembly.”

“They apparently cannot muster enough support for legislation to move the primary election date so they’ve come here asking this court, improperly, to do it,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose told the court.

Legislative measures by other Democratic legislators are still pending in the General Assembly. Senate President Matt Huffman said the temperature of at least the Ohio Senate hasn’t changed, meaning there isn’t enough support for changing the primary. He said the situation is “dynamic,” especially as the Ohio Redistricting Commission continues a week of work to revise legislative maps for the fourth time.

SUSAN TEBBEN is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

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