Editorial: June primary would be ideal

Published 8:11 am Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Moving the primary election to August is a start. Moving it to June would be even better.

It has taken the Coleman-Franken recount debacle to get the Legislature to take action on this issue. It looks like a bill placing the primary on the second Tuesday in August will pass this year. That places the primary on Aug. 10.

But moving it to June would avoid the problem of people who go up north to cabins having to drive south to vote.

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But there are other reasons, too:

As scheduled, Minnesota’s Sept. 14 primary election is one of the last in the nation. A few states share the same date — Wisconsin, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia. Only Hawaii has a later primary.

Every year, Minnesota voters see a slew of candidates in parades, at town festivals and at county fairs all summer long. Meanwhile, the voters really are more concerned with vacations, time at the cabin, hanging out with the kids, showing 4-H animals and other distractions of summer life.

Then, just one week after Labor Day, suddenly voters have to pick some candidate who might have made a slight impression over the summer.

And the final two candidates then have less than two months to duke it out.

Our neighbors in Iowa have held their primary in June for years. This allows the electorate to watch candidates through the spring months, when kids are school and voters are paying closer attention to political issues. In summer, the final two candidates campaign but the heavy campaigning really doesn’t happen until after Labor Day.

By November, the Iowa voters have learned more than they surely need.

The result is voters make a more informed choice at the June primary and a more informed choice in the November general election.

States holding their primary June 8 this year are Iowa, Maine, Nevada, California, South Carolina, South Dakota, North Dakota, Virginia, New Jersey, California and Montana. A few others are on other dates in June.