A bill that would have moved the primary elections in Texas to April was amended at the last minute to move up the filing deadline instead.
After a testy exchange, House lawmakers gave initial approval to a voting bill that would push up the election filing period in order to give military voters more time to get absentee ballots.
The outcome wasn’t what Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, wanted. The original bill carried by the military veteran, along with Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, would have moved Texas’ primary from March to April, and moved runoffs from May to June. It was an effort to bring Texas in line with a federal rule granting overseas citizens at least 45 days to cast absentee ballots.
Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, amended Taylor’s bill to keep the primary date the same — the first Tuesday in March — but push the filing period from January into December in order to meet the terms of the federal MOVE Act. He said moving Texas’ already late primary date back would make the state a non-player in the presidential campaign season. And it would also bleed into spring break, complicating voting for many.
See here and here for some background. Runoffs will now be the fourth Tuesday in May, meaning they could be the day after Memorial Day. Some municipalities had previously expressed concerns about late April primaries conflicting with May city elections; I don’t know if this fully addresses that or not, and I don’t know how many places have May elections in even-numbered years, though I suspect they’re a much smaller group than the group that has them in odd-numbered years. I’m not thrilled about having the filing deadline be that much earlier – the election season seems to start early enough already, don’t you think? – but moving election dates around is tricky business, too. I’m not sure what would be best, but the Lege had to do something to comply with the federal statute. Trail Blazers has more.