2012 Elections preview: Comparing state legislative filing deadlines

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March 5, 2012

By Greg Janetka, Tyler King and Justin Haas

This year 44 states will hold state legislative elections. While each state holds a primary, the amount of time between the signature filing deadline and the primary differs widely from 60 days in North Dakota all the way to 158 days in Connecticut. What this essentially means is that candidates in Connecticut have 98 days more days to campaign than those in North Dakota.

The number of days between the candidate filing deadline and primary election vary widely from state to state

Looking at it geographically, one can see a few clusters - western states with 80-89 days and midwestern states that have 90+ days - but for the most part the variation is spread throughout the country.

  • 10 states have between 60-69 days. These account for 1,468 seats.
State Days from Deadline to Primary
North Dakota 60
New York 61
Delaware 63
Florida 67
Georgia 67
Hawaii 67
Idaho 67
Kansas 67
Pennsylvania 68
North Carolina 69

  • 8 states with 70-79 days. These account for 1,082 seats.
State Days from Deadline to Primary
Minnesota 70
Oregon 70
South Dakota 70
Oklahoma 74
South Carolina 74
Wisconsin 74
Vermont 75
New Mexico 77

  • 15 states with 80-89 days. These account for 1,927 seats.
State Days from Deadline to Primary
Iowa 81
Washington 81
Wyoming 81
Arkansas 82
Texas 82
Michigan 84
Colorado 85
Montana 85
Alaska 88
California 88
Indiana 88
Nevada 88
New Hampshire 88
Maine 89
Nebraska 89

  • 11 states with 90 or more days. These account for 1,502 seats.
State Days from Deadline to Primary
Arizona 90
Ohio 90
Massachusetts 93
Rhode Island 96
West Virginia 101
Utah 102
Illinois 106
Kentucky 111
Tennessee 119
Missouri 133
Connecticut 158

Thus far, candidate filing deadlines have passed in ten states - Illinois, Ohio, Texas, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Arkansas. Illinois kicked off the season way back on December 5, 2011, with the last filing deadline falling on July 12 in New York. This, however, is likely to change in order to bring the primary elections for state offices in line with the June 26 congressional primary date as recently ordered by the court.[1] The primary elections themselves are spread out between March 6 and September 11.

Filing deadlines and primary dates have been, and continue to be, in flux in a number of states, primarily due to the once-a-decade redistricting process.

  • Texas had an original filing deadline of deadline of December 12, but that was pushed back to December 15 and then to December 19 due to redistricting troubles in the courts.[2] The primary was set to be the first in the nation on March 6, but that was delayed as well, to April 3. It was ruled that the filing process would re-open on February 1, but with maps still not agreed to, that was thrown out.[3] The state is waiting on a three-judge federal court panel to draft temporary maps. The primary was moved to April 3, but it will likely be moved again.[4]
  • Idaho saw their new state legislative districts rejected by the Idaho Supreme Court. Legislators are considering moving the state's primary from May 15 to August 8. This would move the filing period from February 27-March 9 to May 21-June 1.[5]
  • In January the New Hampshire State Senate voted to move the state primary from the second Tuesday in September to the last Tuesday in August. The filing deadline would be moved from the first Wednesday in June to the third Wednesday in May. The bill now goes to the House - if approved it would be the first change to the primary date since 1944.[6]
  • Kentucky had an initial filing deadline of January 31, Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd delayed the deadline for state legislative candidates until February 7 in order to consider a challenge to newly drawn districts.[7]
  • Lawmakers in the Missouri General Assembly are attempting to push back the filing period for their August primary by one month. The move is intended to allow time for Missouri courts to settle issues with state house and senate, and congressional districts.[8] Currently, the filing period in Missouri runs from February 28th until March 27th for all state and federal races.
  • In January, federal judge Gary Sharpe moved New York's congressional primary date from September 11 to June 26 in order to keep the state in line with federal election law. The change to congressional primary dates is pressuring a move for state legislative primaries. However, the 2012 session of the Legislature will not end until June 21, allowing lawmakers little time to return home in order to campaign.[9]

See also


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