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Declining population creates two Ohio primaries before November 2012 elections

With congressional redistricting in Ohio delaying the date that candidates can register to be on the ballot, state residents will hit the polls twice before reaching the November 2012 elections.

Passed by both the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate, House Bill 318 will spread the Ohio 2012 primaries between the months of March and June.  

Local, state and U.S. Senate races will be held March 6, 2012. The ballots for the presidential and U.S. House of Representatives will be cast in a separate primary held June 12, according to the bill.

The cost of having that second primary is a point of concern, said Athens County Board of Elections Director Debbie Quivey.

“We’re thinking it is going to cost (Athens County) at least $50,000, but probably closer to $60,000 for each primary,” Quivey said. “(Politicians) are not looking at it from a point of view of the money this is going to cost.”

The main reason for the second primary is the congressional redistricting under debate in Ohio. Following a drop in population according to the 2010 Census, Ohio was required to drop two of its districts. In September, the GOP-controlled state legislature unveiled a re-drawn plan that state Democrats believe is slanted in Republicans’ favor.

“I don’t understand why politicians have to create a whole new primary, spend a ton more money, just because they can’t agree on something like new districts,” said Kelsey Doyle, a senior studying Spanish and marketing. “This seems like something that should have to be agreed upon before more action can be taken.”

In regards to the debate on district lines and its impact on the 2012 elections, Quivey said lawmakers need to understand the consequences they are creating for Ohio citizens.

“It’s playing a political game and not agreeing on anything,” said Quivey.

“Although the Secretary of State says he’s going to pay for the second one (primary), it’s going to be the taxpayers who are going to pay for this.”

Quivey said Athens has already reduced its spending on elections by about $7,000 over the past year by combining voter precincts across the county. The Athens County Board of Elections has combined its previous 71 precincts into 56. In next year’s elections the same number of precincts will exist, added Quivey.


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