TALLMADGE — Voters in Tallmadge, as well as several other Summit County communities, will cast ballots Nov. 6 on a proposal to move the local primary election from September to May.
The question will appear as Issue 29 for Tallmadge voters on the General Election ballot. Tallmadge Mayor David G. Kline says the change "would be a win-win for everyone."
Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Green will pose the same question to voters. If approved, the change would take effect with the 2019 election. Summit County is one of three counties — with Cuyahoga and Lucas — in the state with charters that call for September primaries, according to Paula Sauter, deputy director of the county board of elections.
Proponents, like the Tallmadge mayor, say the date change would increase voter turnout and save money in the process. Kline has said he favors moving up the primary date because there is a tiny bit of Tallmadge situated in Portage County and Portage County conducts a May primary. "We have to pay special to get 70 households to get out to vote [in Portage County]," Kline has said. "The last primary: Three people, $4,000, just in Tallmadge." The city very rarely has need for a primary with Tallmadge candidates, Kline adds.
Backers of the date change also report that voter turnout is higher for May primaries than those conducted in September, a statistic City Council President Carol Kilway (Ward 4) cited in voicing support for the proposal. Kline says he believes instituting the change "would bring more people to the polls."
Moving the primary date also would provide county election officials with additional time to prepare ballots for overseas military service members, Kline says, a point which resonated with Council member Michael Carano (At Large) who said he’s lived overseas.
Kline joined Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan and Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Walters at a press conference in July announcing the cities’ intentions to ask voters to approve a measure to move the local primary elections from September to May.
Jim Mackinnon of the Akron Beacon Journal contributed to this report.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EllinWalsh_RPC.