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Senate OKs switching state primary to May

POSTED: January 15, 2014 12:19 a.m.

ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate on Tuesday approved moving the state’s 2014 primary election date to May 20 from its original July 15 date.

The move is aimed to keep the state primary on the same date as the federal primary. The latter was moved last year after a federal judge ruled the state must build in more time between the federal primary and runoff to allow for the return and counting of overseas absentee ballots. The date was changed to May to allow 45 days in-between.

The proposal passed the Senate’s Ethics Committee on Monday, and senators in the full chamber voted 38-15 to pass it. The proposal now goes to the House.

The move behind the date change is to avoid having separate primary dates for federal offices — U.S. Senate and House races — and the state races. If each went to runoffs, it could result in Georgians having to visit the polls up to four times prior to the Nov. 4 general election. That would be both inconvenient to voters and expensive for local election offices.

“Keeping two separate election calendars is not only impractical — it’s impossible,” said Sen. Butch Miller, R–Gainesville, who carried the bill and serves as chairman of the Senate Majority Caucus.

“The state of Georgia doesn’t have the personnel or technology needed to even consider pursuing such an option. By changing state and local candidate election dates to match those of federal candidate elections, we will be able to create a more efficient process that conserves state resources and taxpayer dollars.”

The proposal calls for candidate qualifying to run from March 3-7. The voter registration deadline to qualify for the primary is April 21.

The legislation would require all candidates to file campaign finance reports by March 31.

The change also could mean a shorter window between the end of the 40-day General Assembly session and the primary. By law, Georgia elected officials cannot campaign or raise money while the legislature is in session. Many believe that will lead to a short legislature this year as lawmakers seek to finish work and head home for their campaigns.


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