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A better primary

Last Tuesday’s turnout in the U.S. Senate primaries wasn’t impressive. But it’s not surprising.

It is August, after all. And as we all know, it is assumed around here that most people are out of town this time of year, enjoying a nice breeze near a beach on a coastal island — with the thoughts of party politics left snugly back here.

Why does Connecticut have to hold two separate primaries during presidential years? Why does the state make municipalities spend all this money for a process that so few turn out for?

Years ago, the state decided that the old September primaries did not leave enough time for the winners before the November election. That is reasonable. But August does not leave enough residents around to participate in their party’s primary.

The presidential primary turnout in April was so low because it was already assumed that Mitt Romney was going to get the GOP’s nomination, which he did. If the presidential primary was held with state and other federal office primaries, it would certainly increase the interest and turnout for both — particularly if the race for the presidential nomination was still up in the air as it was in 2008. It would also mean towns such as Shelton would only have to hold one primary this year. And that would save some money.

In non-presidential years, it would make more sense to hold primaries in June, before school gets out, when the public is more engaged than it is during the summer. And that would give the winners the whole summer to prepare for the November election. And it would make the money spent to staff the polling locations, print the ballots and other costs more worth it.

Participation is what makes Democracy better. But the state has a responsibility to make participation more appealing than a summer-time hassle.

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