Two primary days in New York for 2020

Posted 9/25/19

There will be two voting days for primary voters this year in New York State. The primary ballots for the presidential election will be cast on April 28. The primary for congressional, state and …

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Two primary days in New York for 2020

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There will be two voting days for primary voters this year in New York State. The primary ballots for the presidential election will be cast on April 28. The primary for congressional, state and local elections will be held on June 23.

That’s a step up from 2016 when there were three separate primary days: one for president, another for congressional, and a third for state and local. Almost everyone agreed that this was wasteful, but the debate about primary voting days continues.

A couple of weeks ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had argued that all three primaries should take place on the same day, preferably in February. This would save the state money and give NY voters more influence and power when it comes to choosing a presidential candidate because the vote would come much earlier in the process.

But that would have required a lot of changes, and Cuomo would have had to call the legislature back to Albany to make the change before the first of the year. It would also have required many state and local candidates to radically transform their election plans by essentially moving them ahead four months.

The move likely would have been opposed by the national Democratic Party, because it would have thrown a wrench into the early primary process, which now takes place in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

In the end, the governor signed the legislation to set the presidential primary in April and included a stinging statement that said, “Although I believe that New Yorkers would be better served, and more empowered, by a presidential primary occurring earlier in the year, I recognize that certain national political realities prevent the state legislature from passing legislation to accomplish that goal.”

Still consolidating all three primaries into a single day is supported by a majority of voters in the state. According to a survey published on September 17 by the Sienna College Research Institute, “At least 63 percent of Democrats, Republicans and independents support consolidating all primaries next year on one day in April, rather than the currently scheduled April presidential primary and June congressional, state and local primaries.”

Another change that is probably coming soon to the New York primary scheme is this: if Cuomo signs pending legislation, Democratic voters in the state will be able to register with the party and take part in the primary election much earlier than is now the case. This has been pushed by Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, who in 2016 lost a large number of independent voters who were unable to register with the Democratic Party because they had missed the deadline. Then, the deadline was October 9, 2015, or 193 days before the primary and more than a year before the general election.

Now, the New York State Democratic Party reached an agreement with the Sander’s campaign to change the deadline for party registration for the 2020 primary to February 14, 2020. Earlier this year, the legislature passed legislation to allow that to happen. Cuomo’s office has said he will sign the bill once it reaches his desk.

Changes for 2019 general election

The changes for the primary date will have an impact on next year’s election, but there’s an important election coming up this year that will decide who will become the new Supreme Court Judge, the new Sullivan County Clerk and who will fill all nine seats on the Sullivan County Legislature. There will also be multiple local elections.

In this election on November 5, for the first time, New York State voters will have the opportunity to cast a vote early. The legislation that allows for early-voting calls for an early-voting polling place for every 50,000 registered voters. Sullivan has about 51,000 registered voters, and that translates to one early-voting polling place. It will be located at the Board of Election (BOE) offices in Monticello, and the law requires voting to begin 10 days prior to the general election. Going forward, there will also be early-voting opportunities for the next primary elections.

Polls must be open for at least eight hours between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. during the week and at least one polling location must be open until 8 p.m. during two weekdays. Polls must be open for at least five hours between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the weekends and holidays. A list of early voting days for the 2019 election is available on the BOE website www.sullivanny.us/departments/elections

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