Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Quirks of a Shorter Primary

January 27, 2002

The Legislature, wanting to give more impact to California in the national presidential primary picture, moved California's primary election from June to March. What complicates this ill-advised move is that the much shorter primary season seems to be getting off to a slow start in Orange County's post-holiday January activities.

Nearing the end of January, with only five weeks remaining before the March 5 elections, the public doesn't seem to have awakened to the election season as yet. At least that's what some candidates have been running into on the campaign trail. That poses some practical problems for the nonpartisan local government races on the primary ballot in Orange County. Nominees obviously face a much longer, and perhaps more expensive, general election campaign period because of the earlier election date. But in some key county races, including the district attorney, 4th District seat on the Board of Supervisors, two county school board posts and a judicial seat, the primary election is between only two candidates. That means the voting in March in those contests will be like the November general election. The results will be final.

That puts added urgency not only on the candidates, but also on voters. It also means that any incumbent who loses outright on the March ballot, with no runoff race in November, will have a long 10-month lame-duck period between the last election and term's end. Residents are left to worry whether that extended period will lead to more months of disinterest and poorer government service.

Candidates are concerned not only with getting their messages out to voters but also with getting voter attention in the new, shorter primary time frame. Sample ballots with candidate campaign statements started going in the mail Thursday. Absentee ballots will be available starting Feb. 4. Feb. 18 is the last day for residents to register to vote in the primary.

That doesn't leave too much time before election day for candidates to get out their messages and for voters to get to know the candidates and issues before they must make their marks on the ballot.

The new early primary system, and the need for informed choices and good local government, means time is important for candidates and voters alike. Let's make the most of the weeks ahead.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|