NY Election Dist. & Primary Nightmares

Primaries in New York State are unsettled either as to their date or as to what the district lines are for the various candidates. There doesn't seem to be an answer to either in sight.

Candidates around New York State, both incumbents and aspiring, are caught in an election nightmare with no solution in immediate sight.  Actually there are two nightmares.  One is the setting of the primary date for state and local elections. The other is that the election districts for both federal and state candidates are not set in place yet.

Last week Federal District Court Judge Gary Sharpe set June 26, 2012 for the federal primaries after the State failed to do so even after being given a one-year waiver by the Dept. of Justice to comply with the 2009 MOVE law.  (Basically this law requires primaries to be early enough that absentee ballots can be prepared, distributed and returned by armed service personnel and overseas residents in time for the November election.)  Congressional candidates now know what date they are aiming for but they don’t know their district lines yet.  How do you campaign if you don’t know who is in your district?   State election officials who are drawing these lines now say that they don’t think they can meet the June 26 timeframe!  Say what?  The number of districts has to be reduced from 29 to 27 based on the last census. How is this going to be worked out? 

Nightmare #2. Setting the federal primary day on June 26 has created
pressure on the State Legislature to move the primary date for state and local
races to June 26 as well.  The date is currently set for Sept. 11, the traditional second Tuesday in September. Senate Republicans don’t want the June date and Assembly Democrats do.  However keeping the September primary date is a costly
decision.  This would mean three primary elections in 2012 including the Presidential one on April 24.  Each is estimated to cost in the range of $50 million. Not only has the legislature so far failed to move the primary date for state and local elections, State Assembly and Senate district lines have yet to be settled.  Last week the legislative committee assigned to draw new district lines announced their results.  Predictably, interest groups and government watch dog groups across the State have challenged the proposed new district lines and the issue will head to court if Governor Cuomo doesn’t veto it which he has said he will do.  Once again, how is this going to be worked out?  

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Betsy Shaw Weiner February 04, 2012 at 06:00 AM
The State Assembly and Senate district lines have drawn outrage from good government groups like the League of Women Voters and Common Cause because, in their attempt to protect as many incumbants as possible, the State Legislative committee divided many communities into as many as four or five districts, ignoring community lines, or they have made mind-boggling decisions like putting Ossining into a Rockland County State Senate district. A friend of mine upstate, who is an elections commissioner, reports that the lines there also destroy many existing election districts, so they will have to be redrawn and voters in many cases won't be voting in their traditional places, with understandable resulting confusion. An independent elections commission, as advocated by the good government groups, Governor Cuomo, Mayor Koch and others, would most likely have avoided these problems. Now we have the same folks responsible for drawing the new Congressional lines, something that could and should have been done last year.
newrochellesouth February 05, 2012 at 03:36 AM
This was fought out on a local level here in New Rochelle last year when the Majority Party on the City Council pushed through a redistricting plan that only had one purpose: One Party Government. A group of ciizens asked to be included in the process and were told by then Council women Marianne Sussman that, "It's not up to the Citizens of New Rochelle". No one spoke up for the citizens of New Rochelle when they needed help maybe you will have more luck. http://postimage.org/image/v1t1pb5nf/
George Latimer February 07, 2012 at 05:05 AM
The problem isn't "knowing" what to do...it's getting agreement on actually doing it. 1) Set a single Primary Date - all positions - in June. (I'd prefer June 19, before schools are out of session, but the federal judge called it for June 26, so that'll be the date). 2) The Governor creates a 10 person panel, with recommendations from Majority and Minority leaders in both houses, to review the proposed Assembly, Senate and Congressional lines, and makes modifications with a due date of March 15. If they don't want to participate with recommendations, the Governor appoints the panel by himself. The panel makes recommended changes, and if the two houses don't go along the Governor vetoes the plan. Alas and alack, the majorities - Republican Senate, Democratic Assembly - will not relinquish their power over defining their own district lines. Thus, Gov. Cuomo should simply veto the lines, and let the Court decide, via appointed special master, come what may.
Billy February 07, 2012 at 03:38 PM
NRSouth, how true and after seeing what the New Rochelle Democrats did to their maps, I could care less what anyone says on the matter so long as the Republicans retain control of the NYS Senate.


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