Gov. Jim Douglas said today that he thinks Democrats are using a new federal law as an excuse to move Vermont's 2010 primary to an earlier date.
Speaking at his news conference this afternoon, Douglas, a Republican, said the Secretary of State's Office should seek a waiver from a new federal law. That law requires general election ballots to be sent out at least 45 days before the election, which would be virtually impossible to do with a Sept. 14 primary and Nov. 2 general election.
The law is meant to ensure that overseas voters, particularly those in the military, have enough time to vote.
Douglas said the state should put into place other means of getting allowing overseas votes to count, including allowing more time after the election for them to come in and be tallied. "We ought to look for other ways to accelerate the process," said Douglas, himself a former secretary of state.
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz has said she plans to ask the Legislature to move the primary up when it reconvenes in January. Markowitz has been urging an earlier primary for years and the Senate agreed to move it to late-August last year in a bill that is pending in the House. If the Legislature doesn't act (or I suppose if the governor vetoes a bill), Markowitz said she'd seek a waiver.
Markowitz happens to be running in a crowded Democratic primary field for governor.
Douglas said he believes Democrats want to move the primary simply to give their eventual candidate more time to recoup before the general election, and are using the new law as cover. None of the other primary dates are good options, he said, arguing that anytime earlier would create a longer election season and an August primary would dampen voter involvement.
- Terri Hallenbeck
Labels: Deb Markowitz, Gov. Douglas, vermont politics