Having an important election the day after a long summer weekend, when most folks are thinking about back to school and work, is not the best way to ensure attention and turnout. But that’s what Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin, has done by moving the state’s primary to Tuesday, Sept. 4.

In reality, he had little choice. We were originally slated to be dead last among all the states with primaries this year. The Secretary is empowered to move the date of the primary election back if there is a conflict with a religious holiday and the original date, Sept. 18 is Yom Kippur.

But one week earlier, Sept. 11, is Rosh Hashanah. So, he settled on the day after Labor Day, widely viewed as suboptimal for ensuring high voter turnout.

We need to re-think our electoral calendar to avoid a September primary altogether and join the rest of the country in moving the primary forward, preferably to June.

Illinois will have its statewide nominees chosen by the end of March. Twelve states will do so by the end of May. Twenty-four will either have a primary or primary runoff by the end of June. Only five states choose to wait until September to hold primary elections.

But, because we employ a multi-tiered process of party nominations, we'd have to plan to move each part of the process back just a bit as well.

As it stands now, local caucuses in the winter choose delegates for the spring conventions where candidates vie for their party's endorsement and need to cross a 15 percent threshold to appear on a primary ballot. 

The months between the convention and primary allow candidates who fall short of gaining an endorsement some time to build a winning coalition. While this rarely happens, it is worth preserving the possibility as it allows voters the opportunity to correct party leaders and activists. 

John Kerry and Ray Shamie in 1984, Bill Weld and John Silber in 1990 and Martha Coakley in 2014 — each of them lost their party’s convention endorsement but went on to win the nomination in the September primary.

A move to a June primary could negatively impact the ability of lesser-known candidates to build the momentum necessary to prevail.  But, as the examples above demonstrate, these are rare occurrences, and we can retain the possibility of voters disagreeing with the choices of the parties by providing enough time between the conventions and the primary.

As it stands now, Massachusetts Republicans meet in Convention this April.  Four years ago they met in March.  If Democrats moved their convention earlier than their June preference, both parties could ensure enough time between convention and primary to allow a full and open debate among prospective nominees.

The reasons to push the date forward to June are compelling:

Simply put: Political parties remain vital forces for advancing policy agendas and supporting candidates, and an earlier primary can allow internal dissension to heal over the summer months and give nominees opportunity for unity.

Additionally, Massachusetts’ primary comes hard after the summer, Labor Day and the beginning of the school year, and conflicts with two major Jewish holidays.  If the goal is increased turnout among party members and unenrolled voters, we probably couldn’t have picked a worse time.

Finally, rather than focus on individual candidates, policy agendas should be front and center for the general electorate for a more considerable amount of time. Time in late spring and summer, which is now turned over to intra-party battles, can be turned over, instead, to advancing a debate between the parties, ensuring a healthier conversation over different policy priorities instead of merely a possible horserace.

There's no reason to be last. A June primary can better serve the interests of voters, political parties, and candidates.

Peter Ubertaccio, Ph.D. is dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Stonehill College.