A step closer to a June primary

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A recently-passed Assembly bill’s primary purpose is to eliminate an extra day at the poll for voters.

The bill, which would move the date for state primary elections to the fourth Tuesday in June passed the Assembly on March 15 by a vote of 120-19. If moved, the state primary would coincide with the primary for federal offices, on June 26.

The state primary had been planned for September 11, though the Board of Elections has not yet released its official calendar for state elections.

The new legislation saves money and eliminates the need to hold another primary in a year full of elections – including New York’s presidential primary, scheduled to be held April 24.

“Holding state and federal primary elections on the same day is a matter of common sense,” said Assemblymember Mike Miller, who sponsored the legislation. “Having taxpayers shell out $50 million to hold an additional primary election is wasteful and inefficient.”

Three primaries and a general election is tantamount to four election seasons in one year, something sponsors of the bill believe may result in voter fatigue. Miller believes tying the state primaries to federal ones will boost voter participation; more voters traditionally turnout for federal elections.

A federal judge ordered the state to move its federal primary up to June from September, when it was formerly held, to comply with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. The MOVE Act requires federal elections to accommodate citizens serving overseas in the military and others who are living abroad. While state elections are not subject to the same requirements, moving the state primary would help service members stationed overseas to vote in their local election. New York’s state primary has been held in September since the mid 1970s; prior to that the primary was held in June.

To help accommodate the move to June for this year’s election season, the bill condenses the campaign calendar and reduces the signatures needed for Assembly and Senate seats. The deadline to file designating petitions would move to April 16; the number of designating signatures required for an Assembly seat would decrease from 500 to 375 and the signatures required for a Senate seat would drop from 1,000 to 750.

The Senate, which received the bill in March, has yet to vote on it.