SB1154: Is It a Good Idea to Move AZ Primary Date? (video)

Voter suppression and unnecessary tinkering with elections have been themes in the Legislature this session.

SB1154 was defeated last week but passed the House today on reconsideration. This bill changes the primary date from the end of August to the beginning of August.

At first blush, this doesn’t seem to be a very big deal. Having the primary at the end of August makes it very close to the general election. Having the primary at the beginning of August gives candidates more time to win the general election l, but it could artificially suppress the primary vote, in my opinion.

If the primary is at the beginning of August, mailed ballots will go out around the Fourth of July. What do Arizonans like to do in July? Leave town! Also, the vast majority of college students will not be in town to vote in July/early August.

We should be facilitating voting — not pass laws that will make it more difficult for some groups.

The County Recorders— particularity Adrian Fontes from Maricopa County— really pushed for passage of SB1154 because it will give them more time to do their job. I hope the County Recorders will do whatever they can to facilitate voting in the primary. If there is a significant drop in primary turnout when we compare 2020 to the primary election in 2018, I think 1154 should be changed in the future.

SB1188, which makes it easier to knock people off the PEVL, goes hand in hand with SB1154, which increases the difficulty in primary voting for some groups.

Also, I think changing the primary date (SB1154) and allowing political signs to be on the streets linger (HB2139) both help incumbents— particularly those with lots of money, paid staff and armies of volunteers to campaign while we are in session.

SB1188 passed the Senate but has not been heard in the House. HB2139 passed the House but has not been heard in the Senate.

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