Changes to Election Dates Come Up for a Vote

6/4/11 – Two state committees will vote next week on bills to change the dates of two major Wisconsin elections. The Assembly and Senate elections’ panels heard mostly favorable testimony yesterday on a bill to move the presidential primary from mid-February back to early April. But they got mixed responses to moving the fall primaries for state, county, and congressional offices from mid-September to the second Tuesday in August. Senate Republican Mary Lazich of New Berlin said the national parties are trying to get numerous states to move back their presidential primaries and caucuses, so only a few are held before March first. Lazich says Wisconsin’s April date will land in about the middle of the nation’s primary schedule, so the state shouldn’t lose national clout. Local clerks welcomed the change, saying it would be easier to hold the primary during April’s local general elections. They would no longer need an election if February if there are no local primaries. But some clerks are concerned about the bill to hold the fall partisan primaries in August instead of September. It would help the state comply with new federal deadlines to send ballots to voters overseas. But some clerks said August might still be too late – especially if there are recounts like the one we just saw with the April Supreme Court election. On the other hand, lawmakers don’t want the fall primaries too early, because they want enough time after their session to campaign for their re-elections.