Friday, March 27, 2020

Georgia House Speaker Calls for Another Presidential Primary Move in the Peach State

It is one thing to announce a change in electoral law or administration. It is another to effectively and efficiently implement those changes in a timely manner in normal times much less during a global pandemic.

FHQ raised this in the context of the Ohio decision to shift to a predominantly vote-by-mail system for a would-be April 28 presidential primary. In Ohio's case, that leaves the state and its election administrators on the state and local level with less than five weeks to carry everything out. That is no easy task.

But now, in Georgia, similar logistical concerns have been raised about the state's now May 19 presidential primary (which has been consolidated with a previously scheduled primary for other offices). Less than two weeks after Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-GA) issued an order pushing the presidential primary back, calls are coming in from high places to again change the date of the primary election amid the coronavirus scare. Georgia House Speaker David Ralston (R), in a press release on Thursday, March 26, asked Raffensperger to move the primary to June 23, citing public health concerns of voters and poll works and other primary (non-presidential) moves across the South.

Moreover, Ralston raised the time crunch and the breadth of changes Raffensperger has announced with respect to how the May 19 primary will be conducted. While the speaker commended those actions -- shifting to a absentee vote-by-mail system -- Ralston also raised the need for "full and thorough legislative consideration before implementation." Georgia still has some time -- more than Ohio will have -- to send out absentee ballot request forms to all active voters in the Peach state, but getting those out, applications processed by state/local officials, ballots out and marked by voters, and then returned before May 19 -- just 53 days away -- is no small task.

Raffensperger has the authority to make these changes and press ahead -- the general assembly ceded that power in 2011 -- but Ralston's call begs for another set of eyes on the changes, a set of eyes in the legislative branch.

NOTE: A June 23 presidential primary date would violate the national parties' rules on the timing of delegate selection event. The deadline to hold primaries and caucuses is June 9 for the Democratic National Committee and June 13 for the Republican National Committee.

Speaker Ralston's press release on a primary move to June 23 is archived here.

Related Posts:
Georgia Postpones Presidential Primary, Consolidates with May Primaries

Georgia Will Send Absentee Request Forms to All Active Voters for May 19 Primary

Chorus for an Even Later Georgia Presidential Primary Grows

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