Legislature poised to advance primary date to early August
PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Legislature is poised to move Arizona’s late-August primary date forward by three weeks to the first Tuesday of the month.
The House on Tuesday approved the measure by Republican Sen. David Gowan of Sierra Vista on a bipartisan 39-21 vote. It still requires a final Senate vote before heading to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk.
House members from both parties also voted against the measure, citing concern about longer general election campaigns and that college students may be out of town early in August and unable to vote. In addition to moving the primary election date, the bill also moves forward filing dates for candidates and adjusts other dates.
“I can definitely say in my district they do not want three more weeks of looking at signs on their roads, they do not want three more weeks of robocalls, they do not want three more weeks of beautiful lovely fliers coming in the mailbox,” said Rep. Joanne Osborne, a Republican from Goodyear. “So I’m voting for the people of Arizona, no.”
Republican Rep. John Allen of Scottsdale complained that moving the filing dates for candidates who must gather qualifying signatures will make it more difficult to get on the ballot. “It’s not good policy,” he said.
Rep. Kirsten Engel, a Tucson Democrat, worried about voter turnout, especially among college students.
“By moving up the primary date to the first Tuesday in August, you’re setting that primary date at exactly time our college students are away, they’re doing internships, they’re home with their families and they’re not back at the university where they have made their residential voting address,” Engel said.
But the majority of House members backed the measure, noting Arizona has one of the shortest periods between its primary election and the November general election. Rep. Reginald Bolding, a Democrat representing Laveen, said extending the time between the elections would help candidates in competitive legislative districts and those seeking statewide office.
“This will give statewide candidates more time to travel the state, to have those conversations with constituents, more time to build support,” Bolding said.
The measure was supported by county recorders because it will give them more time for signature verifications and potential court challenges to play out.
The Senate earlier approved the bill on a 28-2 vote, but needs to hold a second vote because of a House amendment before sending it to the governor. If approved, the bill would be in effect for the 2020 election cycle.