Secretary of State moves September primaries to a Thursday this year

At the end of an interesting look at the life of a Massachusetts poll worker in a presidential primary, Mike Ball reports:

Another oddment that voters don’t know yet is that the September primary election will almost certainly not be on the logical second Tuesday. Because Labor Day is the previous week and many travel before or even during that time, the second Tuesday is the normal one. However, this year, it would be 9/11, a date fraught with history and emotion.

We heard yesterday that Secretary William Galvin thinks voting on that anniversary would be inappropriate. Our trainer disagrees. He believes the patriotism roused on that day would inspire better turnout. He, however, was resigned.

Sure, enough, a page on the Secretary of State's Web site lists Thursday, Sept. 6 as this year's primary date.

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Comments

Religious roots

We hear that there are too many folk who worship either Saturday or Sunday. Yet the weekend makes more sense to me too.

Plus, some states do very well with longer dating periods and not just on one day.

Mike

Most voters

Sadly, most voters are older ones. They are the regulars, particularly for preliminaries and primaries. They tend to be around on weekends. I have no doubt that the majority of all potential voters would be available on weekends in March and early June, September and November, at least long enough to vote.

Moreover, in the U.S. and overseas, stats indicate that weekend and several day voting periods attract more voters.

MA and most of this country has made little effort to change voting to encourage more participation. Most places won't allow same-day registration, or online voting, or those flexible periods. Nope, you'll stand in line on a Tuesday and like it! Many don't like it and we don't have anywhere near the levels of participation as other countries. That's not counting places where voting is mandatory.

Percentages

It's a percentage game, and the largest pecentage of people who can vote are those who are in the vicinity of their polling place during the week. Weekends have too many barriers for too many people. Of course there are always going to be exceptions - people who travel for work all the time, those with multiple jobs, people who are not in the normal Monday thru Friday schedule. But those are exceptions, and we're shooting for percentages.

The biggest obstacle I see for weekends is that weekends are when everybody schedules events, private and public. You've got family events, soccer/hockey/baseball/etc. tournaments, charity events, road races, triathlons, non-profit's yard sales, ethnic celebrations - the list is endless.

You can't please everybody, so you go for time period where the largest percentage of people are available to vote. The whole idea is to make it as convenient as possible, or at least, less intrusive as possible.

Make it a holiday

I read somebody's essay in the past arguing for the establishment of a new holiday to hold elections. Makes a ton of sense to me. Hustling down to the voting booth in time while depending on the T to get me home from work can get kind of stressful.

We voted on 9/11/2001

That was a special state primary election day in Massachusetts (for the Congressional seat now held by Stephen Lynch), and the very same Secretary of State explicitly rejected suggestions that the voting be postponed.

From what I've read elsewhere, the real problem is new federal laws that may not give the state sufficient time to print up and mail out absentee ballots for the November 6 election if the primary is as late as September 11.