Presidential races

NH primary could jump up to early December

New Hampshire’s primary may move all the way up to Dec. 6, causing further chaos in the primary calendar and possibly forcing Iowa’s caucuses up into November.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who has the sole authority to schedule the Granite State’s primary date, put out a statement late Wednesday afternoon warning that if Nevada refuses to move its Jan. 14 caucuses New Hampshire’s primary could jump ahead a full month earlier than anyone had planned.

{mosads}”If Nevada does not accept a date of Tuesday, Jan. 17 or later for its caucus, it leaves New Hampshire no choice but to consider December of this year,” said Gardner in a statement. “The dates of Tuesday, Dec. 13, and Tuesday, Dec. 6 are realistic options, and we have logistics in place to make either date happen if needed.”

Gardner said in the statement that while Jan. 3 could have worked for the Granite State, Iowa’s suggestion that it would hold its own caucuses that day made the date unworkable because of the state’s laws, and strongly defended the state’s first in the nation status.

“My job as NH Secretary of State is to follow our law, which mandates that I set our election 7 days or more before any event that would threaten our traditional lead-off status,” he said. “If Nevada does not adjust its caucus date to a later time, I cannot rule out the possibility of a December primary.

We cannot allow the political process to squeeze us into a date that wedges us by just a few days between two major caucus states. Our primary will have little meaning if states crowd into holding their events just hours after our polls have closed.”

New Hampshire’s date selection is currently causing the most primary chaos, but the scramble to be first was triggered when Florida broke ranks and moved its primary to Jan. 31. That forced Nevada and South Carolina to move up in order to keep their relevance as early-voting states, and will force Iowa and New Hampshire up ahead of their dates.

Iowa’s laws require that it goes eight days before any other primary or caucus, meaning if New Hampshire moves up that early the Hawkeye State could wind up holding its elections shortly after Thanksgiving.

Another issue: National law requires states to send ballots out to military voters 45 days before elections occur. New Hampshire’s election filing deadline is Oct. 28 and it takes at least a few days to print the ballots. This make it unlikely that New Hampshire could get its ballots in the mail 45 days before the election.

This story was updated at 7:00 p.m.


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