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Push to consolidate presidential and state primaries lands in Dover

Delaware Public Media

A bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers are looking to push up Delaware’s state primary by more than four months – something they say will lead to increased voter participation.

Delaware already holds its presidential primary on the fourth Tuesday in April, which would be the date used for all state offices beginning in 2020. Right now, state primaries are scheduled in mid September, just a handful of weeks before the general election in November.

“Consolidating the presidential and state primaries will save the state money, reduce voter confusion and increase turnout,” said Rep. Stephanie Bolden (D-Wilmington East), lead sponsor of the bill.

Just last week, nearly 30 percent of Democrats and just under 38 percent of Republicans voted in their respective closed primaries.

Those numbers are historically higher than statewide primaries held in presidential years.

In 2008, 38 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of Republicans showed up to cast their ballot for the nation’s highest office – but turnout fell off by 10 and 12 percent respectively for September primary for state offices.

Voter turnout for midterm elections is much more dismal, just seven percent of Democrats and 14 percent of Republicans in 2014.

17 other states have consolidated primary elections – including Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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