Local Politics

Some Campaign for Earlier N.C. Primary

Posted January 7, 2008

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— Voters in more than 40 states will have cast their ballots in presidential primaries before North Carolina voters head to the polls on May 6, prompting officials to revisit the idea of moving the state's primary up on the calendar.

The Republican and Democratic candidates will likely be decided before the North Carolina primary, which makes it difficult to attract candidates to come to the state to campaign. Observers say that deprives residents of meeting and listening to contenders in person and deprives the state of the national exposure and campaign spending that places like Iowa and New Hampshire receive.

"North Carolina is not a player on the national scene," said Gary Bartlett, executive director of the State Board of Elections.

"When it comes to presidential politics, there's no reason to show up to the polls. We are just completely cast out of that process," said Damon Circosta, acting executive director of the North Carolina Center For Voter Education.

Circosta's group backed a plan last year to move the state's primary from May to late January or early February, but the bill died in the General Assembly.

"There are several important people in this state who are running for statewide office, and they didn't want to move their election schedule up just to accommodate the presidency," he said.

Bartlett said it was "too late in the process going into the election year" to move up the 2008 primary.

He said the state could create a separate presidential primary that would preserve the traditional vetting process for state candidates. It would cost an additional $5 million, however, and it could erode voter turnout in May.

Complicating matters even more, several other states have already pushed toward the front of the line. Michigan, Nevada, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Florida hold primaries over the next two weeks before the 24 state primaries scheduled for "Super Tuesday" on Feb. 5.

"We're going to need a national solution. That's going to require something like a rotating regional primary," Circosta said.

14 Comments

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  • Ken D. Jan 8, 2008

    I think we should do away with primaries entirely, and go back to picking candidates at open conventions. The current system doesn't produce better candidates. You could even make a case that it produces worse (at least more extremist) candidates. It cost an obscene amount of money, and annoys the heck out of nearly everyone for almost two years out of four.

    For the politically correct, I'm sure we could come up with filters for the smoke filled rooms.

  • NeverSurrender Jan 8, 2008

    "Instead, other states should justify why they have to have a caucus or primary in the dim light of January. I'm voting whether it is early or late, but having it in May is reasonable to allow candidates for all offices to get their message out."

    ---

    Nowadays, it's utterly irrelevant when the primaries are held, particularly for the Presidential race because that race starts the minute the previous one ends.

    By the time it comes for us to cast our insignificant ballots, the message is already obvious (and frankly meaningless once elected to the office).

    That's why I think the British system is much better...Parliament is dissolved, five weeks later is the General Election. Granted, we would need to scale up the time due to the fact that the US is a larger country/population than the UK but I'm thinking five months would be sufficient time to narrow the short list and pick the next buffoon to inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Or the governor's mansion, for that matter.

  • Slip Kid Jan 8, 2008

    Why are 'the parties' and the media so intent on REDUCING our options on candidates PRIOR to the actual election? The purpose of primaries is to eliminate 'lesser' candidates so 'We, the People...' don't mess up their hopes for the party preferred candidate to get the maximum possible votes in the actual election. Primaries, and a stagnate 2 party system, reduce our choices and actually limits the possibility of a '3rd party' candidate from competing in the actual election. This system is now doing all of us a disservice.

  • 37 Jan 7, 2008

    "There are several important people in this state who are running for statewide office, and they didn't want to move their election schedule up just to accommodate the presidency."

    This is the best reason to not move it any earlier. That is attacking the problem from the wrong side. If so many states had not moved primaries so early, we would not have had a national campaign season begin last year.

    Instead, other states should justify why they have to have a caucus or primary in the dim light of January. I'm voting whether it is early or late, but having it in May is reasonable to allow candidates for all offices to get their message out.

  • thewayitis Jan 7, 2008

    Thanks for the info on primaries. That was helpful to me.

  • nighthunter Jan 7, 2008

    Some states allow independents to vote in the primaries. I've always felt that this was a bad idea-why should they have a voice in which candidate I want MY party to have represent ME. Let them either affiliate, or form their own party! I 100% agree that NC should move the primary from May - perhaps to the last Tuesday in January, but definitely before "Super Tuesday" in order to have some significant impact.

  • Bartmansan Jan 7, 2008

    Here's a link with info about primaries.... It's a .PDF file

    http://www.ncade.net/_datafiles/links/07~Kid%20Links/Questions%20and%20Answers/What%20is%20a%20Primary.pdf

  • tmedlin Jan 7, 2008

    it varies from state to state - IN NC, if you are independant, you can vote in either primary, but not both - but you HAVE to be a resident. In some states, you don't have to be a resident, just state that you will be at the time of the election...

  • thewayitis Jan 7, 2008

    treetoo7 -- I thought if you were unaffiliated, that you could vote for either party in the primary, but obviously, you could only vote in ONE primary. At least they do that for local primaries. Many times I have gone out to vote, and picked Democrat or Republican for the day.

    Do they not do that with the presidential primaries? I thought I read somewhere that Obama was largely successful because he drew the unaffiliated voters. Can anyone explain?

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Jan 7, 2008

    I don't vote in the primaries because I have to select a party affiliation, and I do not belong to a Democratic or Republican party predominantly. I vote for anyone I feel is qualified for the position, in any party.

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