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Federal judges considering Ohio redistricting lawsuit, but lawmakers have no plans to move primary

 Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) talks to reporters after a House session on March 30, 2022.
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) talks to reporters after a House session on March 30, 2022.

Early voting starts next week for the May 3 primary, but right now it’s unknown when voters will decide Ohio House and Senate races. They’re not on that ballot because there are no constitutional district maps.

And state lawmakers are waiting on a panel of federal judges to make a move.

While a pair of Senate Democrats have sponsored a bill to move the May primary to June 28, House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said majority Republicans aren’t proposing moving or splitting the primary.

“The question is, if the primary is moved, where do you move it to? I mean, nobody knows that date. Maybe the federal court will have an answer – maybe they won’t," Cupp said. "Whenever we get some sort of clarification, we'll try to make a decision. My hope is, it goes forward on May 3."

As Cupp was speaking, three federal judges were hearing arguments on whether to order a set of maps put into place, to move the primary or related dates or to wait till the Ohio Supreme Court decides on the latest set of maps approved Monday.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who voted for all the invalidated maps as a member of the Ohio Redistricting Commission – as did Cupp, along with Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) and Gov. Mike DeWine – told the judges he prefers a single primary.

But LaRose's director of elections testified earlier that holding a full primary on May 3 is all but impossible. Amanda Grandjean said that boards of elections would need a minimum of 74 days, and the law requires 90 days between the filing deadline and election day – potentially pushing the calendar out till August.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.