N.Y. CAPITOL Congressional primaries and state primaries being held a few months apart not only carry an estimated $50 million expense to taxpayers, but have cost some voters their chance to be heard, prompting local lawmakers to call for an end to the redundancy.
Before becoming Albany County executive, Dan McCoy served in Iraq and did not vote in any election from 2005 to 2006. It was not his choice to opt out; the ballot simply didn’t reach him in time while he was overseas. In 2012, the federal Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act required the state to hold federal primaries in June to allow ballots to reach troops 45 days before the election. State elections, however, have not moved from September.
“I take pride … in voting and not missing a primary or general election,” McCoy said. “When I was overseas for 18 months, I didn’t vote two years back to back because I couldn’t get the ballot in time. Our Board of Elections couldn’t get it to me, so I lost on those two years.”
McCoy, D-Albany, said the separate primaries are also an added financial burden, totaling around $200,000 for municipalities countywide. Statewide, the cost is approximately $50 million for every two-year election cycle.
“I’ve got to put that on top of all the other bills that we have,” McCoy said. “We are trying to achieve a 2 percent property tax cap … another unfunded mandate like this does not help.”
Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, held a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 29, to highlight a bill she recently introduced, which would move state primaries to coincide with federal primaries. This year, U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe ordered federal primaries to be held June 24.
“There are 11,000 active duty military men and women serving overseas who may not have their vote counted because the Senate’s coalition leadership has refused to consolidate our Primary Day elections,” Tkaczyk said. “Our state should not be in the unconscionable position of wasting 50 million taxpayer dollars and preventing military members from having their ballots counted.”