Arizona’s primary elections are likely to be a few weeks earlier because of a bill passed by the Legislature and sent to Gov. Doug Ducey. On balance that seems like a good change, although it means more weeks of political signs and robocalls.
For many years, most primaries were in September, depending on the calendar. Recently they have been on the last Tuesday of August. Under the approved bill, they would be on the first Tuesday of the month.
Proponents have said officials need more time between the two elections to accomplish their mandated tasks. Also, candidates would have more time to recover from intraparty battles in contested primaries. Already, changes over the years have made filing deadlines earlier to help officials. At one time, candidates could file as independents after the primary. Of course, a much larger population now complicates things for those in charge.
Candidates now have problems with signs blowing away during monsoon storms, and that would be worse with an earlier primary. Campaigning is likely to start earlier, along with signs and the phone calls, and more time between elections means more time of intense campaigning there. As the legislative session drags on in May, we are reminded that sessions usually are shorter in election years, and that is very likely to be the case with an earlier primary.
In these days of heated battle between the major parties, especially nationally, voters should take some time to learn more about the issues, not just the sound bites. A longer general election campaign may help with that. However, the other side of that argument is that incumbent office holders need to continue doing their job instead of more campaigning.
Only six states have a primary later than the end of August, and 30 have them by June. That shows that an updating of Arizona law may be in order. The change certainly is worth a try.