Courant: Keep Primary in Aug. We agree.

Courant Editorial:  Leave Connecticut Primary Date Alone – Primary Elections Changing months has its drawbacks <read>

Heat and vacations help make August “a terrible time to have a primary” election, Gov.Dannel P. Malloysaid this week. So he’s going to ask the legislature to change the dates once again — to June for congressional primaries and to September for legislative primaries.

Don’t set those months in concrete just yet, governor. Changing the dates might cause more trouble than it’s worth…

A Courant editorial two years ago quoted a blogger whose research showed that August primaries were historically no worse and often better at attracting voters than September ones. Consider the August 2006 Democratic U.S. Senate primary contest between Ned Lamont andJoseph I. Lieberman. It drew 53 percent of the party’s registered voters…

Give voters a good show, make it easy to get in, and they will come.

The last time the legislature switched primary dates — from September to August — lawmakers on the winning side argued that holding it in September chopped too much time out of the general election campaign. When a June primary was proposed, incumbents complained, understandably, that they wouldn’t have as much time as their challengers to campaign.

We agree with the Courant and add some details to the arguments:

  • September primaries leave precious little time for determining the winners with potential recanvasses and court challenges. Especially considering Federal requirements to print and distribute absentee ballots to military and overseas voters forty five days before the November election.
  • Incumbents and unopposed candidates without primary challengers would be advantaged in the September primary with the limited time available for candidates to raise funds and campaign for the November election.
  • In any case, most campaigning for September primaries would occur in August and include Labor Day weekend.
  • June would be difficult for all candidates. When would party conventions be held? Late May would be far too late for challengers to create a real campaign. State Legislators and sitting state officials would be running campaigns in the middle of the busiest part of the legislative session.
  • June would not only interfere with legislative business, it would add to the campaign season. Many of those calling for a June primary would be added to those complaining that campaigns are too long!

Update:

The Courant Editorial seems to imply that Election Day Registration (EDR) applies to primaries:

Connecticut took a step in the right direction this year when the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing Election Day registration — a proven turnout booster. Same-day registration goes into effect in Connecticut next year.

Give voters a good show, make it easy to get in, and they will come.

The bill that passed in Connecticut this year only provides EDR for elections not primaries. We checked with the Secretary of the State’s Office – they concurred with our interpretation. Although we are in favor of EDR, we opposed this year’s bill because it may cause problems without the benefits of EDR successful in other states.

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