Fighting the last [election]war – Be careful what you ask for!

There are several recent stories about the low turnout in the August 10th primary and Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz suggesting the primary date be changed from August to June.  Here is an example from the New Britain Herald: <read>

Due to the low turnout, Bysiewicz is calling for several election reforms she believes will boost voter turnout in future primary elections.

“Obviously, turning voters out to a primary in the middle of the summer when many people are on vacation is a challenge,” she said. “I believe there is much more we can do to make our elections easier and more accessible for Connecticut voters. One step we could take is to move the primary date from August to June, a time when more voters are likely to pay attention.”

This is not a voting integrity issue, yet we place it in the category of “Fighting the last [election] war” (i.e. Changes/reforms that look good when attempting to correct a recent, assumed election problem, without looking at all the consequences. ) We say “Be careful what you ask for”:

Starting in June would move the whole campaign season forward by two months:  Earlier primary, earlier state conventions, earlier pre-convention announcements, gaining support, election committees etc.

  • Many voters complain already that campaigns are too long
  • Many officials complain they are always campaigning
  • Would the Legislature’s “Short Session” be two months shorter, or would they pay less attention to state business?
  • Would candidates want/need more money for longer campaigns (A sure media winner)
  • Would challenging primary candidates find it harder to start earlier.

Finally, its unlikely that lower turnout is due to more travel in 2010 than in 2006 – more likely, its less interest in the differences between candidates and more turnoff by campaign tactics.

Update: 9/28/2010 Susan Bysiewicz op-ed in the Courant advocating June primaries, no-excuse mail voting, and election day registration: How To Solve The Problem Of Low Voter Turnout <read>

As CTVotersCount readers know, we favor election day registration, and oppose any expansion of mail-in voting, including no-excuse absentee voting. Mail-in voting has security risks and can also unintentionally disenfranchise voters. The way to motivate voters is to give them a reason to vote.

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