Markowitz hopeful on primary date change discussion

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(Host) Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says she hopes that in the coming weeks lawmakers will discuss whether or not to change the date of next year’s presidential primary.

At least 19 states are considering plans to move their primary to February 5th in 2008 to create what would amount to a national primary election.

This group of primaries would follow earlier contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. It would include most of the country’s largest states.

Vermont holds its presidential primary on Town Meeting Day in March. Markowitz isn’t sure it makes sense to move the election up to the beginning of February:

(Markowitz) “I think the reality though is that because of our population, unless we were a first in the nation like New Hampshire, we’re not going to be getting a whole lot of attention. So the question is does the March date still work for us?”

(Host) Markowitz is the chairwoman of the National Secretaries of State Association.

She says she and many of her colleagues are concerned by a front loading of the presidential primary calendar. They’re encouraging both the Republican and Democratic national committees to consider a new approach:

(Markowitz) “And the proposal would be to rotate regions from year to year from presidential primary year to presidential primary year and have the primaries clustered so that candidates can focus on one area of the country at a time. And who goes first would change from year to year. The proposal that’s out there preserves Iowa and New Hampshire’s special place as first in the nation, but aside from that would encourage states to get into the rotation.”

(Host) Markowitz says she’s concerned that moving the state’s presidential primary into February might result in a lower turnout and could cost the state a significant amount of money to hold a separate election.

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