February 12, 2012

Speaker Silver and Election Law Chair Cusick Introduce
Bill to Hold State Primary Election on June 26, 2012

Measure Would Save Local Governments $50 Million
and Encourage Voter Turnout

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Election Law Chair Michael Cusick today announced they have introduced legislation establishing the fourth Tuesday in June as New York’s primary election day for both federal and state offices. The measure conforms state law to a recent federal court decision and brings the state into compliance with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.

"There is no good reason why our local governments should be asked to spend an extra $50 million to hold three primary elections in one year. That’s why we should be holding both state and federal primaries on the same day," said Speaker Silver, noting that U.S. District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe’s recent ruling set June 26, 2012 as New York’s primary election date for federal offices only.

"This is a common sense solution that will promote voter participation and allow the state to comply with the MOVE Act without costing taxpayers any additional money," added Silver.

The MOVE Act sets certain requirements for federal elections in order to accommodate citizens serving overseas in the military and others living abroad, however elections for state office are not subject to the same requirements.

The bill (A.9271), which is to be taken up at this week’s meeting of the Election Law Committee, would make June 26 New York’s primary election date for both state and federal offices in 2012. In a year full of elections - New York's presidential primary is already scheduled to be held on April 24 - this measure would reduce the need to hold an additional primary, saving the state and local governments approximately $50 million.

"If the state has three primaries, plus the November general election, it would make for four election seasons in one year," said Assemblyman Cusick. "This possibility could drive down the public’s interest in the election process, discourage voters from participating, and diminish the significance of the role elections play in our participatory form of government. The only practical solution is to hold the state primary on Tuesday, June 26, the same date as the federal primary."

To accommodate the move to June and given the tight time frame due to the state’s ongoing redistricting process, the bill compresses the political calendar for 2012 by adjusting deadlines for designating petition filing dates and reducing the number of signatures required for state legislative and local offices. These adjustments mirror those ordered by the court for federal offices.

The bill’s compressed calendar would:

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.