Primaries In The Summer
Last August, the New York Times published a story that pointed out that little noticed proposal then being considered could force New York to change the date of our Primary Elections.
The possible date change is the byproduct of a little-noticed amendment sponsored by Senator Charles E. Schumer in the annual defense authorization bill, which passed the Senate on July 23 and is now in a House-Senate conference committee. The amendment’s goal was to give those serving overseas in the military more time — 45 days, to be exact — to receive their absentee ballots for the general election on Nov. 2, 2010, and to mail them back in.
But New York’s primary is traditionally in mid-September, which is later than in most other states. So that 45-day provision would mean that next year’s Sept. 14 primary would have to move up by at least two weeks, said Douglas A. Kellner, a co-chairman of the State Board of Elections.
Since I had not heard or read anything about this since then, I stopped thinking about it but last week, someone from 6,000 miles away sent me an article that let me know that the proposal is now the law of the land and that there is a problem.
HONOLULU — The Legislature has approved a bill that will move up the date of Hawaii's primary elections.
The measure passed the House and Senate unanimously Tuesday. It now goes to Gov. Linda Lingle.
A new federal law requires states to distribute absentee ballots to overseas and military voters at least 45 days before a general election. The law is intended to give those voters more time to complete and return their ballots.
Hawaii doesn't now comply because its primary election on the second Saturday of September leaves too little time to certify the results and send out ballots for the general election on the first of November.
The measure would move the primary to the second Saturday of August starting in 2012.
I decided to do some research and discovered that two other States, Minnesota and Vermont this year changed their Primary dates from September to August and that Florida had made this change earlier.
Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Washington DC & Wisconsin are in the same boat as New York with September Primaries.
I have since spoken to a few election officials and learned that while they are aware of this issue, very few politicians are focusing on it even though it is almost certain that the 2012 Primary can not be held in September,
Bob Carey, executive director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program, said states won't be able to apply for continual waivers, meaning most with September primaries will have to move them up after the 2010 election. "If a state says the only way they can get their ballots out 45 days out [from the general election] is to change their primary date, I guess they need to change the primary date," Carey said.
It’s time for New York pols to start thinking and talking about these questions
Do we want a June or August Primary?
What should be the petitioning calendar when we change the Primary Date?
When should the State conventions be held?
And what about the New York City Runoff Elections?
And the Presidential Primaries – if we have the regular Primaries in June, having the Presidential Primary the same day will save us a lot of money.
Let’s start the dialogue!
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