Texas mulls pushing primary back

April 4, 2011 at 12:29 PM
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AUSTIN, Texas, April 4 (UPI) -- The presidential primary in Texas may be pushed back so more military personnel may vote instead of advancing it to enhance its influence, lawmakers say.

Legislators have begun discussions to move the March primary to later in the year to comply with changes in federal law that direct military and overseas voters must get 45 days to fill out a ballot, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Texas easily complied with the 2009 law in last year's November election but doing so in 2012 could be trickier, election officials said.

"There are so many moving parts to this whole thing, I'm not sure anyone knows which way is up at the moment," Tarrant County Elections Administrator Steve Raborn told the newspaper in an article published Sunday.

Lawmakers and election officials are looking at four dates in 2012 in particular: Jan. 2, the last day candidates can apply to be on a ballot but which may shortchange some voters because of the time it takes to print ballots; March 6, the state's tentative presidential primary date; April 10, the date runoffs would be scheduled, which is too close to comply with the 45-day rule for military and overseas voters; and May 12, the date for non-partisan school and city elections.

Holding the primary later has become a serious option, although some have expressed concern that would take away some political clout, the Star-Telegram said. The likely scenario would be shifting the primary to sometime between the third Saturday in March and the first Tuesday in April, Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said.

"I am confident that the Legislature will adhere to the military voting act," Van de Putte said. "What we want to do is have the change that is the least disruptive and the most cost-effective."

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