Showing posts with label MOVE act. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MOVE act. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

[2017-18 State Legislative Review: Proposed Primary Movement] Washington, DC Eases Back a Week on the Calendar

This post is part of a series examining efforts -- both attempted and successful -- to move presidential primary election dates for 2020 during the now-adjourning 2017-2018 state legislative sessions in capitols across the country. While shifts tend to be rare in sessions immediately following a presidential election, introduced legislation is more common albeit unsuccessful more often than not.

During the spring of 2017, legislation was introduced in the Washington, DC Council to shift the date on which future primary elections in the district would be held. The impetus behind Councilmember Charles Allen's (D-Ward 6) B22-0197 was multifaceted.

Primarily, shifting local primaries out of September (to where the elections had been returned in 2014) was intended to ease pressure on district compliance with the federal MOVE act. The timeline of the certification for September primary winners threatened to overlap with the 45 day window required by the federal law to distribute general election ballots to military and other officials registered in a jurisdiction but abroad during an election year.

But motivated by cost-savings, Allen also sought to consolidate those local elections with the the presidential election. And the legislation threaded another needle by scheduling the concurrent primaries a week later than the 2016 presidential primary -- the third Tuesday in June rather than the second Tuesday in June. That maneuver helped the primary avoid conflicting with school calendars. Schools are where most of the elections are conducted and will be out for the year by that point in June. Additionally, the shift guarantees that the opening of the early voting window before the primary will not push into the Memorial Day weekend.

It all works out perfectly.

Perfectly except for the fact that in two years, that third Tuesday in June date for the 2020 presidential primary will be non-compliant with national party rules. The window in which states can hold primaries and caucuses closes on the second Saturday in June in the Republican process (Rule 16(c)(1)) and on the second Tuesday in June on the Democratic side (the would-be Rule 12.A.1; Rule 11.A.1 in 2016).

District Republicans had to shift to a party-run (and funded) caucus in March 2016 while Democrats in the district occupied the last date available in the 2016 Democratic National Committee process.

This issue was raised in the public testimony during the committee hearing for B22-0197. While the Lars Hydle from the DC Republican Party voiced party support for the 2018 primary move, he urged the committee to consult with the parties on the 2020 primary.

That is something both DC parties will prefer if they want to avoid national party penalties, the need to apply for waivers, or having to provide for an alternate and earlier (likely party-funded) contest in the 2020 presidential nomination process.

The DC date change has been added to the FHQ 2020 presidential primary calendar.

7/19/19: Earlier June Presidential Primary Move Inches Forward in DC

5/6/19: Committee Hearing Finds Both DC Parties in Favor of a Presidential Primary Move

4/5/19: DC Council Eyes Earlier Primary with New Bill

2/7/19: DC Presidential Primary on the Move Again?

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Gardner's Bluffing but It Has Nothing to Do with the MOVE Act

What is it with Friday and shallow hypotheses?

FHQ will not begrudge Hotline's Reid Wilson for pushing the conflict between the ever-earlier scheduling of presidential primaries and caucuses -- particularly New Hampshire and a December primary in this case -- and the mandates called for in the federal MOVE act. Here's Wilson:
That law, the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act, significantly expanded a 1986 law known as the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. The MOVE Act requires state elections officials to send absentee ballots to qualified voters at least 45 days before an election; the goal is to ensure military personnel serving overseas and on Navy ships receive ballots with enough time to vote. 
So if Gardner prints ballots on October 31, he wouldn't be able to hold an election for at least 45 days, which is December 14. 
Hypothetically, if Gardner had an amazingly fast printer and a staff dedicated to getting every absentee ballot stamped and out the door in the hours between the end of the filing period and midnight, he could start the 45-day clock on October 28; the clock would then expire on December 12, so Gardner could hold the primary on December 13. But realistically, that's not going to happen.
That is an interesting argument, but as was the case with the early states fudging their rules/laws to schedule their primaries or caucuses, this one is guilty of not providing the proper context. Fine, let's say a voter does sue Gardner over a December primary MOVE/UOCAVA violation. How do those challenges work? What happened with past challenges to the new restrictions in the law?

As FHQ pointed out to a commenter who brought up this very same point the other day, this is an issue New Hampshire can most likely work around given the precedents set during the trial run waiver process the MOVE act triggered in 2010. Look particularly closely at the Hawaii and Wisconsin examples. Both Hawaii and Wisconsin held MOVE non-compliant primaries in September 2010. Both violated the 45 day buffer mandated by the law. And both struck different deals with the Department of Justice to ensure voters' rights were protected. In Hawaii that meant express mailing the ballots out to overseas voters. In Wisconsin the remedy was allow more time on the backend of the process to receive and count votes from those overseas. If that is all that is standing in the way of New Hampshire and a December primary, then the state can work around that.

FHQ is of the opinion that Gardner is bluffing too, but he is bluffing with little worry of the MOVE act.  As the one overseeing elections in the Granite state, the secretary is aware of the conflict and its implications.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Floor Amendments Strip Out April Presidential Primary Provision from Texas House Bill

The Texas House on Tuesday considered the House Committee Substitute to SB 100. The bill, as it emerged from the Defense and Veterans' Affairs Committee, would have shifted the Texas presidential primary -- as well as the primaries for statewide and local offices -- from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in April. One of the five amendments adopted on the House floor yesterday struck that part of the legislation and substituted the original Senate version of that section that addressed just the timing of the runoff election.

That means that the Texas legislature has chosen to go the constitutional amendment route. The debate was over whether to move the primary date back or to change the filing deadline date to comply with the mandates of the federal MOVE act. With the former now eliminated as an option, the decision has been made to change the filing deadline. But that requires a slight change to the resign-to-run provision in the Texas constitution that requires politicians seeking higher office to resign their current position if more than a year remains in the term of that position. The filing deadline has subsequently been set for January 2 in the year of an election, allowing ambitious politicians the ability to throw their hats in the ring of a contest for higher office with less than a year on their current term. In other words, they don't have to resign. To shift that deadline into December would force potential candidates' hands. The only way to remedy that discrepancy in light of the requirements of the MOVE act is to amend the constitution to change the resign-to-run provision in some way.

Such an amendment has been running along a parallel track to SB 100 all along. SJR 37 would amend the Texas constitution and lengthen that window (the time left in the term of one office) from one year to one year and thirty days. That resolution passed the state Senate in mid-April and passed the House and was enrolled yesterday. The change would allow candidates holding lower office to file for a higher office in December of the year preceding a general election without having to resign their current office.

Constitutional amendments aside, the bottom line here is that Texas will maintain its first Tuesday in March presidential primary. Assuming Colorado and Missouri finalize their moves to March 6, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Colorado and Virginia would form a contiguous grouping of contests at the beginning of the window in which primaries and caucuses can officially be held.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Time Running Out, House & Senate at Odds on Texas Primary Decision

May 30 is the final day of the 2011 Texas state legislative session, and while there are any number of important issues before legislators as the session draws to a close, FHQ is keeping close watch over SB 100. The bill seeks to bring the Texas elections schedule in line with the mandates put forth by the federal MOVE act. We have discussed the details elsewhere, so I'll spare you this time around. The crux of it is that there are now two options facing the full legislature.

The Senate passed a bill that keeps the presidential primary on the first Tuesday in March but shifts the filing deadline up a couple of weeks. The latter would require a constitutional amendment which is a different and more time-consuming option. The House is currently considering a version of the bill that would leave the filing deadline -- and constitutional amendment -- issue alone, focusing instead on moving the presidential and state/local primaries back from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in April. The House Defense and Veterans' Affairs Committee has voted in support of the April primary plan, and the bill is now at a stage where it should be placed on the calendar for consideration by the full House some time next week.

Should the full House sign off on the committee-endorsed plan, it would put the House and Senate at odds with each other and force a conference committee to hammer out these thorny issues. Both the House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Van Taylor (R), and the Senate sponsor, Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D), are of the opinion that this riddle can be solved by the time the legislature adjourns the week after next. Yet, that doesn't mean it will be easy as FHQ surmises Ms. Van de Putte's comment on the April primary idea suggests:
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, R-Plano, said both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate "are vehemently opposed to a primary in April." Among the concerns is that any runoffs would not receive much attention as they would be held in late June.
Bipartisan opposition to the House plan exists in the Senate, then. But they may be stuck. The constitutional amendment path is going to be difficult to complete in time and it isn't clear that is something that would pass the legislature either. What's odd is the partisan juxtaposition on this issue in Texas relative to what's happening with primary movement nationally. Democrats nationally, where they have been able, have moved back into April or later in an effort to maximize their delegation size for 2012. Republicans, by and large, have chosen to go as early as possible except in states where winner-take-all allocation rules are valued over early influence over the Republican nomination. Texas Democrats -- at least those in the legislature -- are not thus far in support of this move and Texas Republicans, wary of penalties from the national party, have come out in favor of an April primary. According to Sen. Van de Putte, though, that group of Republicans does not include state Senate Republicans.

There are no easy options in Texas on an issue that will have to be fixed to ward off penalties from both the RNC (delegate selection rule mandates) and the federal government (MOVE act mandates), and it remains to be seen whether all of this can be fixed before May 30. FHQ will be watching.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Texas House Committee Report with April Presidential Primary Provision is Posted

After having passed the House Defense and Veterans' Affairs Committee over a week ago, the House Committee Report for SB 100 has now been filed with the committee coordinator and distributed/posted on the Texas legislative website. That version, which includes a new provision -- different from what the state Senate passed -- to move the Lone Star state's presidential primary (and those for other statewide offices as well) back to the first Tuesday in April, now moves to the floor for consideration before the full state House.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Follow Up on the April Presidential Primary in Texas: Signals from the Republican Party of Texas

Though news of the Texas House Defense and Veterans' Affairs Committee having unanimously passed SB 100 has been out for over a week, little in the way of confirmation that that committee version included a provision for an April presidential primary has emerged. Yes, some news outlets reported it, yet there was no new version -- one that includes the April primary amendment -- posted on the Texas legislature website. Unfortunately, that is still the case, but now there is a slightly more official source confirming the April primary provision in the bill. The Republican Party of Texas has confirmed it by communicating the change to its members. From the RPT press release:
As has been mentioned in the last two Chairman's Updates for March and April, the RPT has been closely following the progress of SB 100, specifically as it applies to the date of the Texas Primary Election. To give some background - the federal MOVE Act has been crafted to give our overseas military a greater amount of time to receive and cast their vote by mail. For our state to comply with the MOVE Act, there are changes mandated to the election calendar that lengthen the period of time between filing for office and election day. In the case of Texas, our best solution is to move the primary date back into April with a runoff date in June. In addition to changes mandated by the MOVE Act, the Republican National Committee has passed rules which penalize states which hold their primary elections before April and do not apportion their delegates in direct proportion to the popular vote. Texas is such a state. Thus, should Texas keep its primary date on the first Tuesday in March, those rules would potentially take away half of the Texas delegation strength to the Republican National Convention in 2012.
As FHQ has previously noted, the RPT is very wary of the penalties associated with the mandates in both the MOVE act and the RNC delegate selection rules. The party cannot change its winner-take-all method of delegate allocation outside of a state convention and the party values following the rules over taking the sanctions in order to preserve an earlier and more influential primary date.

Texas is the rare exception in this Republican-only nomination cycle of a Republican-controlled state moving back beyond March 6. A real dichotomy has emerged between Republican and Democratic-controlled states in terms of their primary movement. Forced to change primary dates in order to comply with the timing aspect of the national parties' delegate selection rules, Democratic-controlled states -- with nothing on the line -- have opted to shift back to April or later dates in order to maximize their presence at the Democratic Convention in Charlotte (see Maryland, DC, and the Democratic caucus states). Republican-controlled states, on the other hand, have chosen to move back, but to move back only as far as the earliest date that the parties will allow (see Oklahoma, Tennessee). States where the Republicans control some part of the state government, and thus have some form of veto power have also prevented moves back beyond March 6 (see Virginia and most likely Missouri and Alabama). New Jersey and Texas are the exceptions thus far. Texas, owing to the rules, has to move back or change other, more complicated matters like the resign-to-run rule as well as the filing deadlines attendant to that (Georgia may fit that category as well.). New Jersey, meanwhile, looks destined to move simply because Governor Christie (R) is seemingly in agreement with the Democratic-controlled legislature on consolidating the presidential primary with the primaries for state and local offices in June.

As state legislatures finish up their business for 2011 over the next few months, that will be the pattern to watch. There is an additional group to add to the mix as well: rogue states. Florida, Michigan and Arizona are increasingly likely to defy the RNC rules in timing their delegate selection events. And no, this group does not include states like New York, Delaware and Wisconsin, which have done nothing as of yet to change the dates of their respective delegate selection events.

A hat tip to Tony Roza at The Green Papers for passing the news of the RPT's press release on to FHQ.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Texas Inches Closer to an April Presidential Primary. ...or does it?

As we have mentioned here at FHQ in the recent past, changing the scheduling of the various elections in Texas in order for the Lone Star state to comply with the federal MOVE act is and has proven to be an extremely complex task. One piece of that puzzle that has been discussed is shifting the state's presidential primary back from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in April. That effort -- one supported by both the major parties in Texas -- got a boost late last week when a Texas House committee substitute to SB 100 was unanimously passed by the House Defense and Veterans' Affairs Committee on May 6.1

That said, this -- the move of the presidential primary -- is anything but a done deal. That reality was made clear during the committee testimony on the the state Senate bill in the House committee. The first conflict concerns differences between the Senate-passed version and the House committee substitute. The version that passed the Senate did not include the April presidential primary provision, for starters. But that's really a minor issue in the grand scheme of the wider bill. Republicans on the floor are likely to balk at moving back, but if it means the state both doesn't comply with the MOVE act as a result and is penalized for having a winner-take-all primary in the proportional window, 2 Republican members may be persuaded.

The most striking thing about the Defense and Veterans' Affairs committee meeting on May 5 was the urgency of committee chair, Rep. Joseph Pickett (R-79th, El Paso), to get something done. He stressed the fact that there would very likely be portions of the bill that committee members and the members on the House floor would disagree with, but that due to time constraints and the need to avoid the fallout for not being compliant with the MOVE act, the committee needed to pass something for the full House to consider and get into conference.

The bottom line is two fold. First, there is now an active bill before the Texas legislature to move the presidential primary back to April. As such, FHQ will reshade Texas on the 2012 presidential primary calendar map. That April move is now the more likely move.3 Second, some caution needs to be exercised here. The legislation is very likely to change on the House floor and/or in conference committee and those changes may well include a change to the April proposal for the presidential primary. That seems unlikely because of the pressure that would place on the state in terms of MOVE compliance. However, there are two apparent versions here -- both unpublished. The House committee has on several occasions referred to the Senate bill moving the primary back one week to the second Tuesday in March. There is a range then from the second Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in April that will be discussed/debated on the House floor and in conference when the bill inevitably heads there. The House will pass a different version from the Senate. Some changes will be made to the laws governing the scheduling of elections in Texas. That much is clear. The House Defense and Veterans' Affairs committee was especially wary of the penalties associated with violating the federal MOVE act and was very open to making the necessary alterations to avoid them.

Hat tip to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News for passing along this news.

1 A link to the text of the bill will be made available once it is posted on the Texas legislature's website.

2 The Republican Party of Texas will not be able to change the rules regarding delegate allocation from its primary before the primary is held next year. Rules changes of that kind can only be made at the state convention and the 2011 convention already occurred. The 2012 convention falls after the point at which the primary will have occurred.

3 The bill to move the Texas primary to February (HB 318) is logistically impossible given the constraints of the MOVE act.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Follow Up on the Later Texas Primary

Early last week FHQ discussed the several bills before both the Texas state Senate and House concerning the Lone Star state's compliance with the federal mandates in the MOVE act that passed Congress in 2009. Unlike many states, Texas does not have the problem of having to complete a late nomination process within 45 days prior to the general election. Instead, Texas has compliance issues on the front end of the calendar; having to balance a late, constitutionally mandated filing deadline (January 2 of the election year) with the need to have an advantageously scheduled presidential primary election. The 45 day buffer applies there and not to the general election. And I should say that after having just sat through the audio of the House Defense and Veterans Affairs committee meeting from April 7, that that is probably the simplest way of describing a set of issues that is complicated by a great many factors.

I won't get into it all here, but will instead keep my comments confined to the point the bills are in in the legislative process and the portions that will affect the timing of the 2012 presidential primary in the state. First of all, amending the constitution to change the filing deadline and the Texas resign-to-run provisions is a consideration, but is viewed as a last resort according to HB 111 sponsor, Van Taylor. Secondly, there is a broad, bipartisan consensus that the Texas legislature should do something to address the need to ensure that military personnel have the ability to vote and have their votes counted.

Getting to a point that that is accomplished and the various complicating factors are accounted for is the hard part though. The committee substitute to HB 111 discussed in the hearing would move the presidential primary back to first Tuesday in April. That move was supported by both Republican National Committeeman from Texas, Bill Crocker, and Texas Republican Party Chairman, Steve Munisteri. Both cited the need to comply with national party rules concerning timing and stressed the potential penalties associated with violations (half or more of the delegation). That is not a concern on timing but is based on the rules regarding Republican delegate allocation in the state. As was the case for the Republican National Committee in every post-reform cycle but 2012, the Republican Party of Texas cannot change its rules except at its convention and the party would need to change its winner-take-all allocation method to comply with the RNC rules if the state maintained a March primary. In other words, the state party could not make the necessary change to its method of delegate allocation until its convention following the primary in 2012. This concerned both Republicans for the potential penalties associated with an inability to make that change. Interestingly neither Crocker nor Munisteri mentioned the potential for Texas losing significance for moving to a later date and both touted the possible advantages of not only maintaining the winner-take-all rules with an April primary, but also the additional significance that would carry if the nomination race was still being contested at that point.

Overall, in this particular instance, the ability to maintain winner-take-all rules was valued over the potential loss of influence by having to move the primary back. At least that was the perspective from the national party and the state party. Other Republican legislators on the floor of the House or Senate may object to moving the primary back. That said, the only people that offered testimony at the hearing that were against any provisions in the bill or the committee substitute were county-level elections officials -- and they had no issues with an April primary.

In the end, the committee substitute that includes the April primary amendment was withdrawn and the bill left pending in the committee while the sponsor considers tweaks to potentially appease the bill's detractors. So, though the April primary provision is not officially part of an amended version of the House bill, there seems to be some consensus behind the idea. The Senate side committee consideration of the companion bill (SB 100) produced a substitute that left the presidential primary alone for the time being, but as was alluded to in the House committee hearing, the Senate consensus revolved around a mid- to late March primary date instead of an April date. If the state Republican Party has its way, though, that will not remain the prevailing sentiment in the Senate.

There are a lot of issues to iron out on this one and only a month and a half to make the necessary changes and shepherd the bill(s) through the legislature before adjournment at the end of May. The bottom line is that the April date for the presidential primary seems likely at this point.

Hat tip to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News for bringing this news to my attention.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Will Texas Move Its Presidential Primary Back?

That is the question before the Texas state legislature at the moment (via the Fort Worth Star Telegram); not because of budgets or strategy, but because of the federal mandate handed down from the MOVE act. Now, the MOVE act has wreaked havoc with some state's carefully balanced late summer/early fall primaries for state and local offices and the resulting temptation that has given some states to combine their presidential primaries with those state and local primaries. That would help not only with compliance with the MOVE act but also with state legislatures looking to trim budgets (see DC, Massachusetts and Missouri).

That isn't the case in Texas. State law requires that primaries for federal and state offices are held on the same date. Since 1988 that has meant a March primary in the Lone Star state (the second Tuesday in March from 1988-2004 and the first Tuesday in March in 2008). The budget, then, is not the concern. The 45 day window that the MOVE act requires for military service personnel abroad to have in order to fill out ballots is the complicating factor. Why? Well, the filing deadline to get on the primary ballot is set for January 2, and while that leaves over two months between that point and the March 6 primary in 2012, it won't give all local elections officials enough time to get their ballots printed up and sent out.

The filing deadline could always be changed, but that is not the quick fix in Texas that it is or has been in other states facing similar issues. The Texas filing deadline is set when it is because of the "resign to run" requirement in the state's constitution. Candidates have to resign one office in order to run for another, presumably higher, office. The deadline is set so that officeholders can do as much in the capacity to which they were elected prior to resigning that office to run for another. The functional dynamic of importance here is that changing that deadline would require a constitutional amendment. That's unlikely to be the course of action taken.

Instead, state legislators are looking at shifting the March primary back a few weeks to late March or early April. There are three bills before the state legislature currently dealing with the MOVE act, but none of them contain any provisions to move the date on which the Lone Star state's primary is held.

...yet. To keep track of this, keep an eye on HB 111, HB 3585 and SB 100. The two House bills are sponsored by Rep. Van Taylor (R-66th, Plano) and the Senate bill was brought forth by Sen. Leticia Van de Puette (D-26th, San Antonio). That the bills are sponsored in both chambers by one member from each of the two major parties points to at least some modicum of bipartisanship behind the idea. That said, FHQ should probably be careful not to overstate that in this instance. HB 111 is due for a public hearing later this week and that will be the first indication of what kind of consensus exists behind the primary date change or if it will be added to any of these bills in the form of an amendment in the future.

This move -- to later in March or in April -- would move Texas off the spot on the calendar the two national parties have reserved as the earliest point on which states can hold delegate selection events. If Texas were to move back and California to June, it would fundamentally reshape the delegate calculus in the Republican nomination race. The point at which one candidate could surpass the 50% plus one delegate level would shift back significantly as a result and potentially shift back the point at which the nomination is settled in the process. It would also make Florida a much more attractive early calendar prize. As an aside, if the Texas primary is moved back to April the Republican Party in the state to keep the winner-take-all elements they have maintained in terms of delegate allocation in the post-reform era.

Needless to say, this jeopardizes Rep. Alonzo's bill (HB 318) to move the Texas primary up to the first Tuesday in February. There had not been any serious movement on that bill any way, but now there is some reason as to why.