What should have been a fairly routine administrative exercise — setting a date for this year’s primary election in Massachusetts — is turning into a major political headache for state Secretary William Galvin. The primary is normally held seven weeks before the November general election, which would be Sept. 18. But this year, that day also marks the start of Yom Kippur. Setting the primary for that date would clash with a state law requiring the primary to be moved when it conflicts with a religious holiday. Backing up a week to Sept. 11 doesn’t help, either, because that would fall on Rosh Hashanah. That presented Galvin, who oversees state elections, with a potentially dicey decision. The longtime Democratic officeholder decided to crowdsource the decision by making a public appeal for suggestions from voters, candidates or anyone else with an interest.
This week, Galvin announced a decision: He set the date for Tuesday, Sept. 4, the day after Labor Day. That immediately drew the ire of voting advocacy groups like the Massachusetts League of Women Voters and Galvin’s Democratic primary challenger Josh Zakim, a Boston city councilor.
Galvin offered an olive branch of sorts, proposing legislation that would allow five days of early voting prior to the primary. Galvin said after consulting with Senate President Harriette Chandler and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, both fellow Democrats, he will seek funding for local election officials to conduct early primary voting.