Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Senate approves moving primary back

By Rachel Wells

The Illinois Senate today approved a measure that would move the primary election date from the first Tuesday in February to the third Tuesday in March.

Carlinville Democrat Sen. Deanna Demuzio, the sponsor of SB 355, said the March date would counter problems such as low voter-turnout, difficulty finding available election judges and lack of time to properly vet candidates, as seen in the February 2010 primary.

Some senators said an April or May date – when the weather likely would be more agreeable and retirees serving as election judges would not be wintering in warmer states – would better solve those problems.

Republicans warned against moving the date with one candidate in mind again. The General Assembly moved the primary date up for the 2008 primary, when then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was running for president. “It’s a little embarrassing for some of us to stand up and say it’s appropriate to move a public process for one political candidate,” said Mattoon Republican Sen. Dale Righter. “I hope we don’t make this mistake again. “

Demuzio said she would be open to considering a later date but emphasized the importance of tradition.

“This particular bill … goes back to that traditional date that we’re all familiar with and our constituents are familiar with, and hopefully the sun will shine on that particular date,” Demuzio said.

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