Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr., and Election Law Committee Chair Michael Cusick today introduced legislation (A.8198) establishing the fourth Tuesday in June as New York's Primary Day for both federal and state offices. Holding a single primary election would save the state and local governments about $50 million.
"Moving New York's primary date to June is a common-sense solution that not only lifts an unnecessary financial burden off of both local municipalities and taxpayers, it also ensures that more New Yorkers have a chance to participate in the Election Day process," Silver said. "As representatives elected by the people of New York we have an obligation to make sure voting is as simple and efficient as possible and this bill helps us achieve that."
"Moving the primary election to June, to coincide with the federal primary, is a practical decision. At a time when local governments are struggling financially this is a sensible move that will provide significant savings for taxpayers," said Farrell.
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.
"Adjusting the primary date to June not only puts New York in compliance with the federal MOVE Act, it also increases the likelihood of New Yorker's staying interested and involved in statewide elections," Cusick said. "We must acknowledge and honor the fact that, when it comes to choosing who represents our communities, every voice matters."
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.