Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hutchinson's Signature Moves 2016 Arkansas Presidential Primary to March

Quickly on the heels of the Arkansas state legislature wrapping up the business of its special session on Thursday, Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) signed SB 8 into law on Friday, May 29. The newly changed statute would shift the consolidated May Arkansas primaries, including the presidential primary, to the first Tuesday in March.

Arkansas now joins Tennessee and Texas on the March 1 SEC primary date on the 2016 presidential primary calendar. And despite all the legislative wrangling in both the regular and special sessions, Arkansas becomes the first state to officially move into that calendar position for 2016 during the 2015 state legislative season.1 SEC primary legislation failed in Mississippi and awaits the governor's consideration in Alabama. Georgia is also very likely to wind up on March 1.

Arkansas will share that March 1 date with those states plus neighboring Oklahoma as well as Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont and Virginia. However, the primary in the Natural state will return to its May date at the end of 2016.

1 Tennessee changed its law during 2011 for the 2012 cycle and Texas, not a part of the original SEC primary proposal, reverted to its first Tuesday in March primary date after a redistricting dispute in 2011-12 forced a temporary change. Though Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has coordinated the SEC primary effort (and holds the ultimate power to set the date of the presidential primary in the Peach state), he has not officially scheduled the 2016 Georgia presidential primary. However, it is pretty clear where Georgia will end up on the calendar.

Thanks to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News sending news of the signing on to FHQ.

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