Monday, April 02, 2007

Meehan Picks his Resignation Date

According to the AP, outgoing Congressman Marty Meehan (D-Lowell) has announced the date he will submit his resignation from Congress, May 9th. His resignation letter is the event that will officially kick off the special election to replace him in Massachusetts' Fifth District. Meehan decided on this date after consulting with Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who wanted to make sure that the election wasn't held during the summer, when low-turnout would be expected. The date of May 9th, Meehan said, would "insure a September primary for the special election."

Would it, though? The law says that the election must be held sometime "between 145 days and 160 days of when the letter is submitted." The primary would be six weeks before the general. Assuming that election day will be on a Tuesday, his May 9th letter would give us the following three possible dates for the special election:

Tuesday, August 21, 2007Tuesday, October 2nd
Tuesday, August 28, 2007Tuesday, October 9th
Tuesday, September 4, 2007Tuesday, October 16th

Only one of these dates puts the primary in September, and that day is the day after Labor Day. If your goal is to increase turnout, it seems to me that the day after Labor Day is a terrible day for an election -- with school starting, vacations ending, etc, people are going to have more immediate concerns than a special election for Congress. Why Meehan must force the state to choose that day, rather than hold off submitting his resignation for another week is beyond me. We all know he's leaving. Does it really matter to him what exact day he submits his resignation?