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Friday, April 13, 2007

Flanders on Super-Duper Tuesday

Take a look at Chad Flanders' op-ed in today's Hartford Courant here.  He neatly discusses the pathologies associated with the race to the top -- in which many states are trying to make their presidential primaries earlier.  Here's a taste:

With Connecticut preparing to join California, New Jersey and roughly 20 other states in what is now being called the "super-duper Tuesday" presidential primary, America seems inexorably headed toward a national primary - not because anyone necessarily wants one, but because states are rushing madly to be the "first" to select the next presidential nominee.

The predictable result of this race to the front will be that candidates will no longer wage local campaigns - no more getting to know the individual voters in Iowa and New Hampshire - and will be pressured to mount a national campaign from Day One. Even worse, with more states pushing their primaries to the first week of February, the nominee for each party will effectively be chosen when people are only beginning to pay attention to presidential politics. There's got to be a better way of doing things.

I don't quite buy his proposed solution; but it is stimulating stuff.  Let us know what you think.

Posted by Ethan Leib on April 13, 2007 at 04:55 PM in Article Spotlight | Permalink


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I have been calling the 5 February primary "the National Primary" over on my Votelaw blog.

While the idea of 10 regions chosen by lottery is better than the rotating 4-region system, there are some practical problems. First, is there a national list of candidates or does each candidate have to qualify in each state? (Remember the Byzantine rules of New York?)

Second, even if the candidates are known in advance, my friends in election administration will tell me that they need more than 2 weeks to get ready for an election. Essentially, this proposal would say to each state, "Be ready for the call. At any time you may have to put on a election with 2 weeks' notice and a list of candidates that will grow shorter, probably, as the season wears on."

Third, another scheduling problem is the interaction with holidays. Alabama wanted to be part of the National Primary, but someone noticed that in 2008 that day is Mardi Gras which is an official holiday in 2 Alabama counties and Mardi Gras parades will block easy access to several polling places. (The chosen solution is early voting for those 2 counties.) So, if the Grand Pooh-Bah chooses Alabama to hold a primary with 2 weeks notice on Mardi Gras, it is already too late to send out thousands of early ballots.

Fourth, there will be a problem in administering absentee ballots. Many states require a reason for casting an absentee ballot. So, how are voters going to apply for, receive, fill out, and return absentee ballots in 2 weeks. How about the problem of military service voters overseas?

Fifth, there may be a problem of interaction with other primaries. Will a state be able to hold both a presidential primary and a regular primary 2 weeks apart? Consider the logistics of that.

Ed Still

Posted by: Edward Still | Apr 14, 2007 2:12:16 PM

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