Move runoff election back after war ends
With fax machines and e-mail, soldiers stationed overseas should be able to vote on the same day that elections take place back home. But war complicates voting, thus the Justice Department's insistence that Alabama space primary and run-off elections farther apart.
The Legislature gave final passage to a bill this week to move the runoff elections from June 27 to July 18 in order to allow military personnel more time to get and cast the second ballots.
That extends the campaigning season by nearly a month and into the hottest time of the year.
Ordinarily, shortening the campaign trail makes sense. But in this case, getting ballots to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq is important.
Delaying the runoffs also is heavy on symbolism. When some legislators complained about extending the election period, Joe Reed, vice chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, chided them and said they should be concerned about the troops rather than their own schedules.
And he's right. So is the Justice Department. In an increasingly unpopular war, it becomes more important that the people back home find ways to differentiate between supporting the soldiers and condemning the war.
Once the war is over, Alabama should move the runoff date back. Shorter campaigns energize candidates and bore voters less.