Sunday, March 15, 2020

Georgia Postpones Presidential Primary, Consolidates with May Primaries

On Saturday, March 14 -- just ten days before the scheduled Georgia presidential primary -- Secretary of State Raffensperger (R) postponed the presidential primary in the Peach state due to concerns over the spread of Covid-19. Said Raffensperger:
Given these circumstances, I believe it is necessary and prudent to suspend in-person voting in the Presidential Preference Primary, and the local elections associated with them, and resume in-person voting for those elections as part of the already scheduled May 19 General Primary.
Georgia, then, will shift its presidential primary back from March 24 and consolidate it with the primary elections for other offices on May 19. The earlier Peach state presidential primary move from Super Tuesday in 2016 to the fourth Tuesday in March for 2020 already had shifted the Georgia primary to the latest point on the primary calendar since 1976. That is still true with the move to May, but the May 19 date represents the latest date on which Georgia has conducted a presidential primary in the post-reform era.

Importantly, Georgia voters will have options given the change. Those who have already cast early ballots for the previously scheduled March presidential primary will be able to vote again if they choose. But Georgia voters will also be able to let their previously cast early ballots count toward the May 19 presidential primary race if they want. That latter option would mean casting a vote in the presidential race but ceding down ballot votes for other offices.

Unlike Louisiana, which changed its primary date on Friday, the Georgia presidential primary moved back but stayed within the window established the national parties in which states can conduct primaries and caucuses without penalty. Like Louisiana, however, the move may not affect delegate allocation but may have an impact on delegate selection. District delegates were due to be selected at district caucuses on April 11 while at-large and PLEO delegates were set to be selected by the Georgia Democratic Party state central committee on May 16. Both obviously occur before the Georgia presidential primary now. The at-large and PLEO selection may not present a problem. It does not occur within the context of a large gathering, but happens much deeper into the calendar and potentially out of the time in which the coronavirus may be the most dangerous.

But the district caucuses to select congressional district delegates are much sooner in fall at a time on the calendar that overlaps with some other cancelations, postponements and delays that have occurred in the sports and culture worlds. Slates of delegates from each remaining active campaign can likely be chosen ahead of a primary. This happens often with states that have contests later in the calendar. Delegates are chosen from those slates once the primary has occurred and the allocation is clear. That is not a big issue, per se, but getting around the gatherings at scheduled April 11 district caucuses in a way that is consistent with tamping down on the spread of the coronavirus may present some problems for the Georgia Democratic Party.

The date of the Georgia primary has been changed on the 2020 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

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

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

Chorus for an Even Later Georgia Presidential Primary Grows

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