Is Delaware's Formal Election Calendar Too Short? - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Is Delaware's Formal Election Calendar Too Short?

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Delaware is known for being among the smallest states in the nation. And this year it has the distinction of being the state with the shortest formal election calendar.

Delaware's primary election is Sept. 9.The deadline for candidates to file to run was only two months ago, July 8. And the general election is just two months away, Nov. 4.

some other states, all in the northeast, have primaries as late as Delaware's. Some other states have filing deadlines as close to their primaries as Delaware does. But no state has the both in the way Delaware does.

John Daniello, chair of the state's Democratic Party, says the reason for that is the state's general assembly meets from early January through June 30.

"The general assembly members are reluctant to have any kind of partisan, political activity going during that period," he said. "So, everything is based on that June 30."

John Fluharty, executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, says a short election calendar hurts voters.

"Party members, whether you are Republican or Democrat, deserve to be to hear from the candidates at length, kick the tires and make sure they're making the right choice," said Fluharty. "Having a short election time period doesn't allow for that to happen."

He believes that helps incumbents over challengers.

This year Delaware's junior US Sen. Chris Coons is running for re-election for the first time as an incumbent. He says the election calendar needs to be long enough for challengers to get involved.

But -

"I've never heard a citizen come up to me and complain that elections are too short and that they would love it if the elections would take a longer period of time," Sen. Coons said.

Dr. Phil Jones, a University of Delaware political science professor, points out to some extent that period of time has little to do with set dates, like a filing deadline.

"Just because the length of time between the filing deadline and the general election date is really short that doesn't mean that has to be the length of the campaign," he said.

Jones says the tight frame could mean more potential for surprises. He points to the surprising results of the 2010 Republican primary for US Senate. Tea party-favorite Christine O'Donnell unexpectedly upset former governor and US Rep. Mike Castle.

It was a divisive primary. Fluharty says that's another place the short election cycle can cause issues.

"If a party faces a divisive primary, there's very little time to restore party unity. That's significant. I know it's impacted our party in the past. And it crosses party lines."

Back in the mid-1900's, Delaware's primary was held in August. Lawmakers moved it to September in the 1970's.

In 2011 a bill was introduced to move it back to August. But that bill didn't go anywhere in Dover.

At least for now, the quick calendar is here to stay for Delaware, which means voters are running short on time this year to determine their candidates of choice.

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