Secretary of State Bill Gardner most likely will not be setting the first in the nation primary for Tuesday, January 3--Iowa seems to want that date, but there's one particularly good reason, albeit somewhat parochial, for not going with that day.
The Manchester City Charter requires that newly elected officials be sworn in the first Tuesday in January. That's January 3 this year, and among the elected officials are all those who operate elections at the polls--moderators, ward clerks, and three selectmen per ward.
Thus, if the primary were held January 3, Manchester would be hard pressed to man the 12 polling locations. I suppose there would be a solution, but it would involve having a swearing in ceremony at 3 a.m., so ward officials could get the polls in time to set up for the 6 a.m. opening. (Most of take elections for granted, but they don't just happen. A great deal of work goes into making them run smoothly). The Manchester swearing in ceremony includes mayor, aldermen, and school board members, and the public, including friends and relatives of those elected, is invited. 3 a.m. would not be a good time for it.
Beyond the January 3 date, there's another problem for Manchester. Unlike most cities which have targeted next spring (in time for filing for state offices) for the new ward boundaries to take effect, Manchester is using a January 1 date. Thus, if the presidential primary is held in January, new ward lines will be in effect. If it's held in December, the current lines will be in effect.
Normally, the city clerk's office does a mailing to the limited number of registered voters who have been moved into new wards. It's not a huge number, but it's several thousand (Wards 6 and 12 needed the greatest adjustment to keep ward populations in line), and of course, that mailing cannot go out until the primary date is set.
Four years ago, lines were long for people not merely to vote in the presidential primary but for those who had to register for the first time or change registration. This year has all the makings.
Good luck to City Clerk Matt Normand and his staff.