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Qualifying for 2014 candidates moved up two months

Published 4:32pm Thursday, January 2, 2014

Qualifying for major party candidates in the 2014 election cycle is now just more than a month away.

Secretary of State Jim Bennett announced the new date Thursday, with his office stating that the change will comply with federal laws concerning military and overseas voters. Qualifying for major party candidates will now end at 5 p.m. on Feb. 7, much earlier than usual. The original date was April 4.

Bennett’s office said the change will not affect the June 3, 2014, qualifying deadline for independent candidates and candidates of parties that did not receive more than 20 percent of the vote cast in the last general election.

“Though we do not have yet an order from the court, we have agreed with the Department of Justice to move our deadlines up considerably to get ballots to the Absentee Election Managers in each county,” Bennettsaid. “This will allow ballots enough time to be sent to military and overseas voters well before the federal deadline, which is 45 days before the date of the election.”

Bennett said he has urged the parties to open qualifying for candidates early in order to account for this change.

“We are doing everything in our power to make sure that our soldiers have their ballots in hand and can mail them back in time for their vote to be counted,” Bennett said.

The Secretary of State’s office tried to pass a bill last year in the Legislature that would alter the elections deadline schedule to reflect this end date for qualifying.  That bill passed unanimously in the House, but failed to pass the Senate due to time constraints.

“We are bringing the bill again this year,” Bennett said. “I know that the legislative leadership has every confidence that this will be passed for future elections and that we will all do our part to ensure that every vote counts, including military and overseas voters.”

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