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Ground swell growing to change state's primary date

March 05, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — If the turnout for today's election here is low, calls for moving California's primary date to September will grow even louder.

Already the California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of state senators has endorsed legislation written by state Sen. Ross Johnson, R-Irvine, that would move California's primary to the first Tuesday after Labor Day.

The state chamber's president, Allan Zaremberg said, "Polls have indicated an all-time low in voter interest and awareness."

State chamber spokeswoman Kim Mattoch said "condensing the time frame" between the primary and general election in November would encourage voters to get involved in the process. Asked how, she said, "It would allow the state to get closer to what other states are doing."

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Mattoch said other states such as Vermont, Hawaii and Washington have great turnouts for their September primaries.

"The second reason, it might reduce the cost of elections. Candidates wouldn't need to spend as much money," she said.

Mattoch was asked why California legislators would want to move the primary date backward after recently moving it forward to give the state more clout in the presidential campaign.

"As part of the legislation, the presidential primary would remain in March … yes, there would be two primaries in a presidential election," she said.

Mattoch was asked if the legislation could still be worked on in the Senate before it comes to a vote. She said it could.

Since advocating a change in election dates wouldn't seem to benefit or affect business owners much, Mattoch was asked why the chamber was supporting this legislation.

Mattoch said, "This is the second in a series of ‘good government' proposals."

The proposals are crafted by members of the chamber's California Business Roundtable.

Mattoch was asked if chamber members have called her office to ask why the chamber was touting this legislation.

She said, "We haven't received any information. Most people are saying, whatever the legislature and the chamber is saying is fine."

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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