September 23, 2013

Set primary date quickly

Georgia lawmakers need to make a quick decision when the Legislature comes back into session in January.

A federal judge has moved the general primary for all federal offices from its original date in mid-July to mid-May, and the runoff, if needed, for that election in mid-July. The judge moved the dates because he did not believe there would be sufficient time to send out and get back ballots from military members and others living overseas if runoffs were needed for any of those races in August.

But the judge’s decision doesn’t affect the primary for all state and local races, which is still slated for July. The runoffs for those races is still slated for August. That leaves Georgia voters facing the prospect of voting in two primaries in eight weeks and two runoffs in less than four weeks. And it leaves state and local officials facing the prospect, and expense, of holding two primaries and two runoffs.

That doesn’t make sense, and lawmakers are expected to move the state primary to the same date as the federal primary. The question is how long it will take them.

They need to move with all due speed.

With a May primary, qualifying for office would take place in mid March, so candidates need to know as soon as possible when they will need to qualify so they can make all of the other decisions their campaigns need to make.

Right now, there’s a great deal of uncertainty among both candidates and voters regarding next year’s primaries. Lawmakers need to move as quickly as prudent to end that uncertainty.

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