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Friday, January 17, 2014 - 11:45am

State Lawmakers Vote to Move Primary Election

Friday, state lawmakers cast the final vote needed to move Georgia’s primary election from July to May.

The House vote was nearly unanimous—159 to one—to move up Georgia’s primary.

Lawmakers chose May 20 to coincide with federal races after a U.S. District Court judge ruled the state needed to allow more time for military and other citizens overseas to cast their ballots.

Representative Earnest Smith, a Democrat from Augusta, was the only dissenting vote.

“I don’t believe in following suit just because everyone else does,” said Smith.

As a wounded veteran, Smith says he understands the issue, but wanted more time to study the bill.

“It has moved too fast and usually when you move something too fast, that has not been really and truly fleshed, debated or validated, gray areas are something that are dangerous.”

But veteran Atlanta Journal Constitution political columnist Jim Galloway says today’s vote comes as no surprise, since lawmakers are moving quickly so they can end the session and get campaigning.

However, what could prove surprising is the impact the early primary has on Georgia politics.

Galloway says the May date will likely mean a higher voter turnout. That could favor more centrist candidates, instead of voters on the extreme left or right.

No matter who wins the primary, Galloway says all candidates will have time to fine tune their policies and finances.

“It gives Republicans more time to pull themselves back together and raise more money when they face somebody like Michelle Nunn who’s going to have several million dollars in her pocket just to start off the race.”

Galloway says when the Gov. Deal signs the bill, this will be the earliest primary in Georgia history.

The state’s general election is Tuesday, Nov. 4.