New Jersey no longer last in presidential primaries
Last week, New Jersey Governor Richard Codey signed legislation that will move New Jersey’s last in the nation presidential primary from June to February. With the adoption of the bill, NJ joins an ever growing list of states that are moving their presidential primaries to the winter to “gain a greater voice in national politics.”
TYL has previously endorsed the idea of presidential electoral reform, calling specifically for open primaries that allow every American the opportunity to vote in either party’s Presidential primary. I’d like to take this reform one step further – to support the overhaul of the nation’s primary system to avoid the problems currently caused by state efforts to “ensure their voice is heard” by moving to the front of the presidential primary calendar.
The National Association of Secretaries of State proposed a plan for the 2004 presidential primaries that would group states regionally with the first region holding primaries in March, the second grouping in April, the third in May and the final region in June. The groups of states would rotate with each presidential season ensuring that each region was “first” every fourth election. Their plan may not be perfect but it would restore some sanity to the primary system, lengthening the primary season while the shortening the presidential campaign and reducing the reliance on money and TV advertising that currently hinders non-establishment candidates.
Note: Under the new measure in New Jersey, nominees for congressional and local offices will still be selected in June. The non-partisan NJ Office of Legislative Service estimates the presidential primary will cost $10.3 million in 2008.
The legislation will also allow voters to register later, giving them up to 21 days before an election to register to vote and permit any registered voter to cast an absentee ballot, eliminating a requirement that they provide a reason for not being able to vote in person on Election Day.