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Failing to Increase Voter Turnout

June 04, 2002

I have been involved in California politics for 30 years both as a volunteer and as a political consultant. "Political Endurance Contest," your May 28 editorial advocating moving the California primary election to the first Tuesday in August, is misguided. Do you really think that an election held in the midst of summer vacation season is going to generate higher voter turnout than the first Tuesday in March? The March 2002 primary election had virtually the same low voter turnout as the June 1994 primary election. Take a look at the turnout numbers for states that have late primaries in early September, such as Florida or Nevada. These states have even lower turnout for their primaries than California did in March.

Another result of moving the primary to the first Tuesday in August is that it will cause havoc for our county registrars of voters. In major counties such as Orange, Santa Clara and San Diego (though not Los Angeles), virtually every elective office is up for election in November of even years. Filing for office for the November election closes around mid-August. Just imagine a recount going on at the same time as the registrar's office is handling the filing of documents for candidates.

I don't think moving our primary election will result in higher turnout, but if the Legislature believes moving the date to increase turnout is important, then the logical date is our previous primary date: the first Tuesday in June. We need to keep the election process as simple as possible.

Fred Huebscher

Hermosa Beach

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