State officials, from local election boards to Gov. Kathy Hochul, are scrambling to figure out what to do after the state Circuit court threw a wrench in New York’s political schedule by rejecting the new House and Senate district maps.
Politicians worry about two C’s: cost and confusion if New York’s primary elections are split into two contests separated by a week.
At the last minute, “we don’t even know where people run for any of these contests, and this is going to be incredibly confusing the voters,” says Dustin Czarny, an Onondaga County elections commissioner.
An unconstitutional gerrymander by Democratic state legislators for the House of Representatives and state Senate was declared by New York’s highest court on Wednesday. Essentially, this was an effort to help Democratic candidates & incumbents.
As a result of this verdict, congress and the president Senate primaries set to take place in the next two months are in jeopardy. Voters who wish to be represented to Washington or Albany will need to redraw the boundaries of the race and start a new petition drive to get their names on the ballot.
A normal statewide election might cost up to $30 million, making it prohibitively expensive for most candidates. Adding a second primary to the Onondaga Country elections board will cost $400,000, according to Czarny.
According to him, “I think the main county boards and notably New York City & Long Island were going to face major exorbitant costs that counties will be forced to bear.”
During a visit to an elementary school in Yonkers on Thursday, Hochul failed to make any announcements about how he intends to handle the court’s decision or how the primaries will be held.
In New York City, however, numerous primary elections are commonplace. In order to comply with a federal rule guaranteeing immediate access to foreign and military ballots, a court ruling last decade mandated that the state run congressional primaries in June. There was no agreement on a new date for state-based races between Republicans in the state Senate & Democrats in the Assemblies at the time, though.
As a result, a federal primary was held in June, followed by a primary election in Sept. Unifying primary dates was a goal of the Democracy state Senate in 2019.
Czarny stated that “voters found it quite perplexing.” To put it another way, “They didn’t even know how so many times to go to the voting box, what offices were up at what hour, and that was when they had years to plan for that but it was considered usual.”
Republican John Faso, whose advised the Republican-backed lawsuit, admits that there would be voter uncertainty. It’s better than allowing candidates to run under maps constructed with partisan intent, he maintains.
According to Faso, “it would be worse if the senate and indeed the U.S. Chamber of Deputies elections had been held on unlawful lines.” What if it had happened?
For non-partisan redistricting, the court’s decision is also a significant step forward, he noted.
An appeals court’s decision to uphold the constitutional change voters approved in 2014 “set an important precedent,” he said. The fact that it isn’t just “a sham or a front”