Candidates for local and state offices on the primary ballot are only about a month and half away from the qualifying week.
The Georgia Senate on Tuesday passed House Bill 310 by a 38-15 vote, which will set the local and state qualifying dates from March 3-7 for a May 30 primary election. This will conform with dates already mandated for federal elections by a 2013 court ruling. The state House is expected to quickly pass the same legislation.
“This is a significant change, making voting much earlier than usual,” said Carroll County Elections Supervisor Leslie Robinson. “Usually, qualification has been in May, with the primary elections held in July.”
If there’s a primary runoff election, it will be held July 22. The general election is set for Nov. 4 and a general runoff, if needed, will be held on Jan. 6, 2015.
Both of Carroll County’s state Senators, Mike Crane, R-Newnan, and Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, voted for HB 310.
“By moving the primary to May, it syncs the state election schedule with the new, federal court mandated federal election schedule, and thus eliminates the cost of potential extra elections,” Crane said.
“We could have kept our state calendar on the old schedule, but that would have meant adding additional election dates,” Dugan said. “I felt that would have been very confusing to voters and would have been costly for the counties, as they would have to create multiple ballots and open polling stations for two sets of elections.”
Crane noted that another provision of HB 310 requires an additional disclosure of finances, by March 31, for candidates during an election year.
Crane said he expects the House to be on board with the legislation and quickly pass it.
“It’ll be interesting to see if this impacts voter turnout,” he said. “I believe primaries are dominated by active and involved voters and will continue to be so.”
Dugan said he feels it’s important to keep voters informed and engaged, while saving taxpayer dollars.
“Passing HB 310 was the best option that we had to accomplish this,” he said.