More voting changes could be warranted

Many Youngstown voters spent time Tuesday — or in the days leading up to Tuesday’s primary election — casting ballots for their choice for Democratic nominee in the Youngstown mayoral race — Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, Councilman Julius Oliver or businessman Ryan Kelly.

Republican mayoral candidate Tracey Winbush was uncontested in Tuesday’s Republican primary, but she will face challenges in the fall.

All four of these partisan candidates took the time to circulate petitions early in the election cycle. They plotted out campaign strategies, probably raised and spent campaign funds and prepared for the long haul.

Then suddenly, each learned at 4 p.m. Monday that another four candidates had officially filed to run for the mayor’s post. Provided the petitions of these new candidates are accepted by the Mahoning Board of Elections, these non-party candidates will move on to the November general election without ever having to face the effort and stress of the primary election.

Independent candidates John White, Richard V. Hill and Tayana C. Smith have tossed their hats into the Youngstown ring. Also, Calvin Hill Sr. filed as a write-in candidate — the first so far.

This situation is not unique to Youngstown.

In Niles, for example, four Democratic candidates — Albert J. Cantola Jr., Richard Hale, Jimmy Julian and Michael Lastic — have been battling it out for the party’s nomination to fill three council at-Large seats. No Republicans filed to run.

As of Monday, though, two additional independent candidates threw their hats into the ring for the Niles at-Large race — James V. DePasquale Jr. and Geo Kuriatnyk.

In each case, it stands to reason that the number of additional candidates in a general election will weaken the voter base for each candidate, likely allowing the winners in each race to be elected by a smaller percentage.

So, perhaps it is time to reconsider how independent candidates are elected in our state. Perhaps Ohio should consider enacting new guidelines that would narrow the number of independent candidates to just one in the general election. That could be done by moving the independent filing deadline to earlier in the year, then narrowing the field via an “independent” candidate primary election.

Consider: Voters casting ballots in primary elections already choose among Democratic, Republican or issues-only ballots. Why not adjust Ohio’s election laws to make it possible to list the names of all independent candidates on that issues-only ballot?

Yes, this proposal is unorthodox — some might even call it crazy. But why not think outside the box?

Indeed, America’s elections system has undergone much criticism and many changes in recent months and years.

Perhaps it’s time for more analysis on just how independent candidates should fit.



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