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Should Maryland Move Its Primary Date?

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After last week's low-turnout primary in Maryland, some are suggesting the election should move (again).
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After last week's low-turnout primary in Maryland, some are suggesting the election should move (again).

This year's primary election in Maryland is less than a week old, but leaders are already talking about the next one.

Turnout last week was around 20 percent statewide, and even lower in Montgomery County, the state's largest jurisdiction. County Council President Craig Rice knew turnout would be low after having a conversation with his neighbors, who "questioned me why I had signs in my yard and having a truck with signs on it," he says. They said, "'Wow, you're starting early.'"

Rice says he thinks many voters were just like his neighbors: They had no idea the primary had been moved up to June from September in order to comply with a court order. He feels it may be best to move the next primary election to before Memorial Day so that it is held at a time when school is still in session, meaning that summer vacation plans for residents do not interfere with voting.

But many state lawmakers worry that a May primary is too close to the yearly General Assembly session in Annapolis, which ends in early April, and would therefore limit the amount of time they can campaign. Also, members of the General Assembly, as well as any statewide elected official, are banned from fundraising during the session.

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