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Ohio's First St. Patrick's Day Primary Is Already Causing Problems

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections decided not to move two downtown Cleveland polling places near the St. Patrick's Day parade route, but 11 polling places in the suburbs with other holiday-related conflicts were moved.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections decided not to move two downtown Cleveland polling places near the St. Patrick's Day parade route, but 11 polling places in the suburbs with other holiday-related conflicts were moved.

With the Democratic presidential primary field narrowed, the nation is shifting focus to six states that will vote March 10, followed by Ohio and the three states that hold primaries on March 17.

This year is the first time Ohio has voted on St. Patrick’s Day, and it’s created a few problems.

Cuyahoga County Board of Elections director Tony Perlatti said voters at two downtown Cleveland polling places were notified that they could encounter traffic from the St. Patrick's Day parade on election day. Cleveland is the only major city in Ohio that holds the parade on the holiday regardless of when it falls during the week.

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Then Perlatti asked polling places throughout the county if they had holiday events scheduled.

“And I'm glad we did that because there's conflicts out in the suburbs," Perlatti said. "I have 11 polling locations that I do have to move. That's 29 precincts. We're talking about 26,000 voters.”

Perlatti said those voters were then notified of the moves.

The Lucas County Board of Elections in Toledo also reports having to move two polling places because of St. Patrick’s Day conflicts. But no holiday-related moves were reported in Franklin, Hamilton, Summit or Mahoning Counties.

Tom McCabe at the Mahoning County Board of Elections in Youngstown said their parade is on the weekend, as it is in many cities, so there were no potential parade conflicts. But St. Patrick’s Church agreed to move a lunch scheduled for that day to the weekend to allow voting there.

But McCabe noted one other problem with staffing.

"We have a pretty big Irish celebration here. St. Patrick's Day is a big day in Mahoning County, a big Irish population," McCabe said. "And so we've had some poll workers that chose not to work because of St. Patrick's Day."

McCabe said he’s confident they’ll return for this fall.

Last year, Ohio Republican lawmakers set the primary for after March 15 to award all the state’s GOP presidential delegates to the party’s winner. The only candidate in that contest now is incumbent President Donald Trump.