(Host) Secretary of State Deb Markowitz is strongly backing efforts to create regional primaries for the 2012 presidential election.
Markowitz says the current front loaded system is a train wreck waiting to happen and needs to be changed.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) There are roughly 5 months before the first caucus and primary votes in the 2008 presidential campaign and yet the schedule for many of these events remains totally in flux.
A number of states have moved up the date of their primaries to have a greater influence on the process – most of these states have scheduled their elections for the beginning of February.
There are other states, such as Florida and South Carolina, that want to hold their primaries in mid January – a situation that could push the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary into December.
Both of the national political parties are threatening not to seat delegates from states that don’t adhere to the original schedule.
Markowitz, who’s the immediate past president of the National Secretaries of State Association, is concerned about what’s happening.
(Markowitz) "It really is a mess. It’s actually a train wreck we could see coming for over the past few years as the primaries and caucuses have moved forward closer and closer to January. And of course now we’re seeing them maybe even move into December."
(Kinzel) Markowitz says she supports a plan, backed by her national association, to hold primaries on a regional basis. She says the schedule would rotate from election to election:
(Markowitz) "I think the intention of that proposal was to stimulate a national conversation about our primary system I think there’s a widespread belief that it’s broken the way it is now that it’s not good for democracy it’s not good for the candidates it’s certainly not good for the voters."
(Kinzel) Vermont’s presidential primary takes place on Town Meeting Day in early March. Markowitz says it’s difficult to predict how important the election will be to the presidential race:
(Markowitz) "Vermont’s primary could still be relevant if it’s really close across the country all eyes will be on those later primaries but it also could be that clear winner’s emerged before we go into vote which would make our primary election less meaningful."
(Kinzel) Markowitz says there have been discussions with both Republican and Democratic officials about moving Vermont’s primary date from Town Meeting Day but she says the cost of holding a separate election makes it very unlikely that this option will be considered.
For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.