A U.S. district judge has agreed to the earliest Georgia federal election calendar in memory beginning next year, with the state’s primary now shifting from July to May 20.
The “game-changer” move came at the request of Georgia officials, who had been chastised just last month by Judge Steve C. Jones for not giving military residents and other Georgians living overseas enough time to return absentee ballots by Election Day.
Jones originally ordered a federal schedule that would have moved up the state’s primary to June. Now, with the even earlier change to May, Georgia voters will be casting their ballots before Memorial Day, with officials expecting higher turnouts.
Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday touted the change as a way to make voting “as convenient as possible for Georgia families,” he said in a statement. “With kids still in school on May 20, more will be able to vote.”
Deal and Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp also wanted to avoid having to hold early voting on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, which would have happened had they stuck to Jones’ original order.
The move will likely have a notable political impact.
Campaigns, already in full swing, could ratchet up TV ads earlier than ever. Candidates already holding political office could be tempted to step down to focus on fundraising.