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Split primaries costing Albany County $200K

Tkaczyk proposes moving primaries to June, or state covers $50M price tag

Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, speaks Wednesday, Jan. 29, about legislation she recently introduced to move state primaries to the end of June to coincide with federal primaries.

Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, speaks Wednesday, Jan. 29, about legislation she recently introduced to move state primaries to the end of June to coincide with federal primaries. Photo by John Purcell.

— Tkaczyk’s legislation, if approved, also puts the onus on the state to cover “another wasteful mandate” if it fails to move state primaries to June 24. She previously co-sponsored legislation to have the primaries coincide, but her current bill attaches the state’s fiscal responsibility.

“I think maybe that will be a little inconvenient for the state, and then maybe the idea of putting these two dates together won’t be so onerous,” she said.

Rachel Bledi, Republican Albany County elections commissioner, said shifting the cost to the state does not provide any taxpayer relief.

“At the end of the day, taxpayers are still paying for it,” Bledi said.

Bledi, while agreeing federal and state primaries should be held on the same date, does not support moving state primaries to the end of June. She said Tkaczyk’s remarks are only setting back negotiations to move the primaries together on a different date, likely somewhere between late July and August.

“Her press conference, the tone, is really a setback. She hasn’t really mastered the art of compromise,” Bledi said. “She is sort of setting back any negotiations here that could be had.”

Tkaczyk blamed the Senate Republican and Independent Democratic conferences for failing to move state primary dates, with the Assembly previously passing such legislation. She also called claims that a June primary date conflicts with state lawmaker’s legislative calendar “ridiculous.”

“Think for a minute about those military service men and women overseas who are there are on our behalf. How disrespectful it is of us to send them ballots … and for them to know that their ballots aren’t even getting counted because they can’t get back in time,” Tkaczyk said.

She also said one primary date would lead to better voter turnout and with people more likely to become engaged in the process.

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