Talk of changing August primary date draws staticby John Kennedy | January 23rd, 2012
An effort to move the date of Florida’s August primary is drawing mixed reviews among lawmakers and elections officials.
Citing concerns and questions, Senate Ethics & Elections Committee Chairman Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, postponed action by a subcommittee Monday on his bill (SB 1596) that would postpone the primary a week, from its scheduled Aug. 14, to Aug. 21.
Diaz de la Portilla said the proposed later date, which would also delay candidate qualifying a week until June 11-15, is aimed at giving those running in redistricted House, Senate and congressional districts more time to decide their political candidacies.
But the delay causes a host of other problems, according to some elections supervisors. Ron Labasky, lobbyist for the Florida Association of Supervisors of Election, said 22 of the 67 supervisors opposed the move — with some saying it could force them to rework contracts for polling places or cause personnel problems.
In Hillsborough County, elections officials have balked because the delay would push the primary election close to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Security for the convention is expected to cause wide-ranging traffic problems in the city’s downtown area, Labasky told the committee.
Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher is among those opposing the primary delay, saying she’s having enough trouble educating voters on new laws, new districts and revised requirements without throwing in a date change.