Monday, August 31, 2009

Proposed Federal Law May End Late Primaries

Proposed Federal Law May End September Primaries

Ballot Access News points us to a NYT piece that says pending legislation may put an end to September primaries.

The second Tuesday of September is school board election day in Iowa (only in odd years now), but it's also long been the second busiest day of the primary calendar for state and congressional races. Our neighbors in Wisconsin and Minnesota pick their nominees on this late date.

But Sen. Chuck Schumer tucked a provision into a defense bill to require states to mail general election ballots to overseas and military voters at least 45 days before a general election. New York State election officials say this means the primary will have to push back at least to the last week of August.

Iowa's been a June primary state since we started having primaries in 1908. We did September primaries in 1966 and 1968 and August 1 in 1972. The moves were due to the court-ordered redistricting battles of the era.

Growing up in Wisconsin September seemed really late for trying to get the party's act together after a primary. But that's not even the latest date; Hawaii has traditionally gone in late September and Florida has seen October runoffs.

My beef with Iowa's primary date is less about how early or late and more peculiar to my hometown: it tends to be either a week before summer classes start or the second day of class, and UIowa types (students, yes, but staff too) are out of the loop and either gone or just getting back. So the date sneaks up on people.

Of course, that's only my second biggest complaint about Iowa's primaries; blatant crossover by How Soon Can I Switch Back Republicans tops my list...

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