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Election reform legislation clears House

ATLANTA - Georgia would join a host of states moving next year's presidential primaries to Feb. 5 under legislation passed overwhelmingly by the House on Tuesday.

The bill, which was approved 154-11, would move the Georgia primaries forward about one month.

With the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations being decided earlier with each election cycle, states are rushing to hold their primaries sooner in order to give their voters a say in those races.

If all of those measures are approved, it would set up virtually a national primary for the two major parties on the first Tuesday in February, more than five months before the nominating conventions.

A second section of the bill would lower the bar for candidates to win most elections in Georgia from 50 percent to 45 percent.

Supporters say the vast majority of candidates who win at least 45 percent of the vote in a multi-candidate race, but fail to reach the 50 percent mark, go on to win the subsequent runoff elections required under current law.

They say reducing the minimum percentage of votes needed to claim victory would reduce the number of runoffs, saving tax dollars.

The bill now moves to the Senate.