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Editorial: Give candidates filing break

Last week's editorial reminded voters about the new legal requirement for 2012 elections to have a photo I.D.

This week, we ask our legislators to do something about the poor time frame forced on those who wish to become candidates for local office.

Candidacy registration, as required by state law, goes from Dec. 1 to the first Tuesday in January. Yet, spring elections aren't until three months later in April. Primaries, if needed, are scheduled for mid-February.

The December/early January filing period is ill-timed for getting people motivated to seek office as a school board, city council, town or county board candidate.

The reason's obvious. The big holidays are upon us, and the Thanksgiving holiday is just over.

Households are in planning mode--for visits, travel, vacations. Schools and colleges close. People are going places. They're out shopping.

That frenzied activity from Dec. 1 through right after New Year's means politics is not a priority. We're distracted and busy. And with school district administration offices closed around Christmas and New Year's, school board candidates have an even smaller window of opportunity to register.

We don't propose a radical change for candidate registration. Ballot preparation for possible February primaries limits what can be changed. But instead of the registration deadline being the first Tuesday of the month (Jan. 3, this year), why not give an extra two weeks and make it by the third Tuesday (Jan. 17, this year)?

If anything, this would eliminate the flurry of last-minute candidates trying to squeeze in their registration on deadline Tuesday--right after New Year's.

As the month of January progresses, people are more focused on the routine of being back at work, back at school. They have more time to think about the business of politics. That's why extending the deadline for registration by at least two weeks would be sound public policy.

How about it, lawmakers? Local needs, local concerns and local elections are very important. You can help format a better system for attracting candidates for public office.