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?