State should fix primary date as Sept. 11, 2012

State lawmakers and the governor are poised to fix the unfortunate timing of next year’s state primary election, which has been scheduled for Sept. 6. The date is a problem because that’s also the day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., an event that would undoubtedly siphon many politically active people away home — and compel others to stay home because of election-day obligations here.

It’s also problematic because Sept. 6 is on a Thursday next year. It is hard enough these days to get people out to vote, so it does not help matters to change the day of the week, a move that will lead to confusion and, potentially, mischief from those who might seek to depress voter turnout.

Secretary of State William Galvin pushed for the earlier date for a good reason: to avoid a conflict with Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish holy day, which falls on Tues., Sept. 18. Another alternative, Tues., Sept. 5, was considered too close to the Labor Day holiday, which is the day before.

We see no good reason why this election should not be held on Tues., Sept. 11, instead. In fact, holding an election on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks may be one of the best ways to memorialize the resolve and communal spirit that many of us remember from those first hours of the fateful day itself.

That day was, after all, election day for many of us here in Massachusetts as we went to the polls to elect a new Congressman. Just as the voting went forward that day in 2001, despite the unfolding national tragedy, it is altogether fitting that Massachusetts voters go to the polls on Sept. 11, 2012.

– Bill Forry

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