How does going to the polls in August sound? Hot? Perhaps, acknowledged Secretary of State Jan Brewer. But she said lawmakers should consider moving the state’s biennial primaries up a month from the current date of the second Tuesday in September.
Brewer said it would give more time for election officials and the courts to resolve any challenges before the ballots are printed for the November general election.
The idea, though, is getting a cool reception from some of the legislators who would have to approve the change — and who would be affected.
And at least part of the reason is that such a change also would alter the date that candidates need to file their petition signatures to May, which for the last few years has been in the middle of the legislative session.
“Let’s be traditional,” said Sen. Marsha Arzberger. DWillcox, who will be the Senate minority leader next session.
“People are used to our primary in September,” she said. “Don’t confuse the voters.”
And it’s not a partisan issue. Senate Majority Whip Jay Tibshraeny, a Republican like Brewer, said an August primary is “a little early.”
Brewer, who had been a state legislator for 14 years in the 1980s and 1990s, said she used to believe the same thing. But she said her current position as the state’s chief election officer has caused her to rethink the issue.
“We have our primary so close to the general that, for those that run, if there’s any question on the election, those people really don’t have enough time for due process,’’ she said.
Brewer cited a 2004 primary race in a legislative district encompassing parts of Chandler, Tempe and Phoenix, where questions were raised about the discrepancies between the original tally and the recount — a recount that changed the outcome of the race.
She said there wasn’t enough time to litigate the issue before the general election ballots were sent to the printer in early October.
“You just kind of have to give up because you don’t have any more time,” she said.
Brewer said she’s not concerned that an August primary will lower voter turnout as some Arizonans decide it’s simply too hot.
“It’s hot here in September,” she said.
But weather has another effect on voters: Brewer said some Arizonans flee to more moderate climes during the summer months.
Nevertheless, the situation has changed since she was in the Legislature and opposed moving up the primary, she said.
“With mail-in ballots today it shouldn’t really be that big of an issue,” she said.
Gov. Janet Napolitano said she’s willing to listen to what Brewer wants. “I can understand the secretary’s position, vis-a-vis the logistics of actually conducting the election,” she said.
But the governor said there are other considerations.
“I don’t know if the voters of Arizona want a longer general election cycle with all that goes along with that,” she said.