Editorial: Change the date

The voter turnout numbers for last week’s GOP primary clearly show Connecticut’s choice of a primary date is seriously flawed. It is time to change it.

Why hold a primary in the middle of August when many are on vacation, at the beach, the pool, or simply not paying attention?

It isn’t the state’s responsibility to get you to pay attention — that is yours. But it’s a big waste of money and time to hold a primary in the middle of August, when a 30% turnout is considered high.

This year we did not come close. Twenty-one percent was just a bit higher than the 20% turnout predicted by the secretary of the state’s office.

Statewide GOP turnout lowest since 1986

The turnout in Wilton was about half that — 11%.

The last time there was a gubernatorial primary here — in August 2010 — 31% of Wilton Republicans turned out to vote, but that was the year there was a highly contentious primary for Republican registrar of voters. In fact, Republican Registrar Tina Gardner was the highest-vote getter of all the names on the ballot.

In 2010, 26% of Democrats turned out for the primary. Those numbers were a bit better than the statewide turnout of 29.76% for Republicans and 24.88% for Democrats.

This time around, there were no local contests to boost turnout.

Years ago, the courts ruled that a September primary — as is the practice in neighboring New York — is too late in the election cycle, giving the winner less than two months before Election Day, which gives an advantage to incumbents and to candidates who are not challenged in a primary.

While September may be too late, June is not too early. These primaries should be held before school is let out for the year. Hold the primary the second Tuesday of June — a day far enough after Memorial Day and certainly before most public schools let out for summer vacation.

The outdated state party conventions — traditionally held in May during even years — would not have to move, but could be moved up to April if party leaders wanted to be sure there was enough time after a convention for candidates to campaign before a primary.

With a June primary, the winning candidates would have all summer to campaign and prepare for the general election. And the people — who pay for these primaries — would not feel their taxes and time are wasted.