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Oklahoma’s presidential election primary moved to March

Oklahoma Democrats and Republicans will go to the polls a month later to select their presidential preference.

Legislation was approved this session that moves Oklahoma’s presidential primary from February to March. The measure was necessary because the national political parties have decided to limit the number of states that could have presidential primaries in February.

The Democratic and Republican national committees last year granted early primary status to four states — the traditional early states of Iowa and New Hampshire as well as South Carolina and Nevada.

Any state that holds a presidential primary before March 1 could lose half of its delegates at the national convention.

Legislators approved a measure this session that sets Oklahoma’s presidential primary for the first Tuesday in March. In 2012, the primary will be March 6.

Legislators in 1986 approved holding the first presidential primary in the state in March 1988. The state previously had a caucus system.

The legislation also prohibits any special local or state election to be held in December.

“Following a general election (in November) and actually leading up to a general election, the state and county election boards, that is the busiest time for any election board,” state Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said.

“To have to be conducting preparations for a December election before we’ve even had the November election — that’s a great burden on our county election boards. It’s a burden on our staff here.”

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