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Republican-Led Effort To Move Date Of State Primary Gains Steam In Legislature

Durham voting polls
Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A State House committee has endorsed moving New Hampshire's state primary date to late June, three months earlier than its current September date. The Republican-authored bill, which passed the House Election Law Committee along party lines Wednesday, is opposed by Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who says the state primary should remain where it is.

New Hampshire's September primary election is one of the latest in the country. Proponents of holding it earlier say it would give non-incumbent candidates more time to organize, for races up and down the ballot.

“This bill will go to great lengths to ensure that candidates that are running for those Executive Council seats, some of those more competitive state Senate seats, the congressional seats, the Governor's seat, are allowed more time to organize and build their campaign, which is something that both parties are going to benefit from in the long run,” said Republican Rep. Joe Sweeney, one of the bill's sponsors who is also executive director of the New Hampshire Republican party.

Democrats on the panel voted in a bloc against the bill.

Gardner has long resisted efforts to move the state primary day to earlier in the year. He's said the current date helps maximize voter turnout

New Hampshire has held September primaries since 1910.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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