Thursday, February 12, 2009

Special Election Dates: April 21 and May 19

Janel Davis has the story. The County Council also voted not to close precinct locations for the special election - a good decision. We reproduce the press release below.

Montgomery County Council Unanimously Sets Dates for District 4 Special Elections
Special Primaries Will Be April 21, General Election To Be Held May 19 to Fill Seat of Late Councilmember Don Praisner

ROCKVILLE, February 12, 2009 - The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously today to hold special primaries on Tuesday, April 21, and a special general election on Tuesday, May 19, to fill the District 4 seat left vacant by the recent passing of Councilmember Don Praisner.

The Council also voted to urge the County's Board of Elections to use the same number of polling places (46) as were used in the 2008 special elections last spring in which Councilmember Praisner was elected.

The special elections will determine who will fill the remainder of the term of Councilmember Praisner, who died on Jan. 30 following surgery for colon cancer. Councilmember Praisner served less than a year after winning a special election in May 2008 to fill the seat of his wife, Marilyn, who died on Feb. 1, 2008, while in her fifth term as a Councilmember.

Earlier this week, at a Council meeting on Feb. 10, Councilmember Valerie Ervin had suggested that holding the special primaries on April 7-when schools would be closed for spring break-would alleviate some problems reported during the 2008 special elections. There were reported problems that at some schools used as polling places, parking for voters was difficult because the already limited number of spaces were mostly filled for regular school use. However, other Councilmembers were concerned that holding the primaries during a school break could mean that some potential voters would be away on vacation.

On Feb. 10, the Council also discussed the possibility of reducing the number of polling places for the special election since voter turnout is generally light for special elections. Reducing the number of polling places could reduce the special election cost, which was approximately $1.3 million for the 2008 special election. In the 2008 special election, only 11.5 percent of eligible voters participated in the primaries and only 8.9 percent voted in the general election.

However, the Council overall believed reducing the number of polling places could leave some voters confused. "The goal of all Councilmembers was to select dates that could lead to good voter turnout," said Councilmember Phil Andrews. "The dates the Council unanimously selected today will do that."