COLUMBUS—The Ohio Senate passed legislation with unanimous support today that would save taxpayer dollars and bolster confidence by eliminating unnecessary primary elections, for uncontested party nominations. 

Existing Ohio law requires local boards of election to hold primary elections when two or more people file to run for an office, even if only one candidate remains on the ballot after the death, withdrawal or disqualification of the other candidates. Senate Bill 10, authored by Senator Frank LaRose (R-Hudson), would change the law to trigger a primary election based on the number of candidates who are certified to appear on the ballot, not the number of candidates who file. 

Holding uncontested primary elections erodes public confidence in the democratic process and devalues the importance of voting. Making this change will ensure that hundreds of staff hours and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are not wasted by local boards of elections who are required to administer these unnecessary uncontested primaries.

"Forcing our county boards of election to hold uncontested primary elections is a clear waste of their time and taxpayer resources," said LaRose. "This commonsense, bipartisan bill would remove the unnecessary cost burden placed on local communities and improve efficiency in the administration of our elections."

Current law requires a special primary election be held to fill a vacancy when a party's nominee for Congress withdraws from the race or dies more than 90 days before the general election. Senate Bill 10 removes the requirement to hold a primary when only one candidate remains on the ballot and gives the Secretary of State authority to declare the sole remaining candidate as the party's nominee.

“Secretary Husted called on the General Assembly to act to prevent this kind of wasteful spending in the future, and this is our response," LaRose added.

Senator LaRose first introduced this legislation in August 2016 as Senate Bill 347. It passed the Senate unanimously at that time, but did not pass the House of Representatives. The bill was supported by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and the Ohio Association of Election Officials.

Senate Bill 10 now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives where it will receive further consideration. 

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