ALBANY – A push for additional state funding to help hold a second primary election this summer in New York is underway, with a second election slated for August as newly drawn district maps are drafted.
Board of Election Offices across New York are now calling for additional funding to help cover the new election day.
Last month, the State’s Court of Appeals ruled the newly drawn election district maps were unconstitutionally gerrymandered by Democrat lawmakers.
Since then, the Justices appointed a special master to redraw the district lines for state Senate and Congressional races, and set an August 23rd primary date.
“Twice in the recent past, the voters of the state of New York have told the legislature, ‘hands off redistricting.’ Back in 2014, a referendum was passed that said that an independent redistricting commission is going to decide based on criteria that is presented by the census on how legislative districts are going to be drawn. They paid no mind to that,” says Assemblyman John Salka.
Assemblyman John Salka, along with other Republican leaders including Senator James Tedisco and county election commissioners, are voicing their concern about what two elections will cost taxpayers.
“It’s not only another singular Election Day in August, where we’ll have to bring the voters out, we’re gonna have to bring the workers out, we’re gonna have to bring the volunteers out. But it’s also what I would call, in terms of elections and voting, the mother of all unfunded mandates. It’s a 25 million dollar bill, estimated, across the state of New York,” says Tedisco.
The Senator continued that this second election will have the same ten days of early voting as the June election, and that he expects voter and worker fatigue.
These legislators have called for a consolidated primary in August, instead of having one in both months.
To combat the costs for municipalities to run a second election, a group of Senators and Assemblymembers are pushing the “NYS Gerrymander Failure Assistance Act” to ensure that state, not local money, goes towards the costs of the election.
“Directly addresses funding and manpower concerns for our local Boards of Elections. I find it highly disingenuous of New York State to place more demands on our local Boards of Elections without the critical funding in place to fulfill New York states’ demands,” says Senator Rath.
Darlene Harris, Schenectady County Election Commissioner says that staffing is an issue for one primary, let alone two.
“One of the things we will also struggle with is staffing for that. As with any of our elections now in New York we do that nine early day voting. We have to work with local facilities in order to acquire space to allow us to take up their space for nine days, so that is going to be an additional burden that is going to be placed upon us trying to negotiate with our locations throughout our county,” says Harris.
State leaders say the already scheduled June 28th primary for Governor, Lt. Governor, state Assembly and county and local offices will take place as scheduled.