New date for Election Primaries

In a move that would save state and local governments, as well as taxpayers, about $50 million, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr., and Election Law Committee Chair Michael Cusick has announced the Assembly passed legislation establishing the fourth Tuesday in June as New York’s Primary Day for both federal and state offices (A.8198).

“Passing legislation to establish a single primary date in June is a common-sense solution that saves our state and local governments a significant amount of money while also encouraging more voters to participate in the electoral process,” Silver said. “Unifying the state’s multiple primary dates has been long overdue. Today, we have taken a significant step toward ensuring that voting here in New York is as simple, efficient and cost-effective as possible.”

“A single June primary date is practical for both voters and municipalities, and its cost-saving benefits cannot be overlooked,” Farrell said. “Saving local governments millions of dollars, ensuring compliance with the MOVE Act and simultaneously improving the democratic process in our state is a win-win for everyone.”

The measure would bring the state into compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which sets certain requirements for federal elections in order to accommodate citizens serving overseas in the military and others living abroad.

“Every vote and every voice matters when it comes to elections,” Cusick said. “Streamlining the primary dates down to one day in June increases the likelihood that more New Yorkers stay interested and involved in their local, state and federal elections. In addition, the bill provides greater protections of the voting rights of military personnel, their families, and other overseas citizens. This initiative is a great way to jump start a productive session in the Assembly by acting swiftly on such an important piece of legislation.”

The bill would reduce the need to hold an additional election, a federal primary election in June and a state and local primary election in September. This step would ultimately increase voter turnout and eliminate the financial burden on state and local governments.

New York’s primary has been held on the first Tuesday after the second Monday in September, although prior to 1974 primary elections were held in June.

After the 2009 MOVE Act was enacted, New York’s primary was not in compliance with federal law because it was too close to the deadline for transmitting military and overseas absentee ballots, 45 days prior to a general federal election. New York was granted a waiver from MOVE Act compliance in 2010, however a similar request was denied for 2012 and a federal court imposed the federal June primary in New York State.

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