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Politicians should pay for primaries

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
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As tough as it is getting voters to the polls for general elections, it’s tougher still for primaries — when die-hard party regulars are pretty much the only ones who can be counted on to show up. And thanks to the intransigence of the state Senate, New York will be holding not one, but two primaries again this year — June 24 for federal elections and Sept. 9 for state ones.

That’s going to cost local governments across New York as much as $50 million in aggregate, all because lawmakers couldn’t compromise on a single primary date. Democrats could have lived with June 24 for both, but Republicans thought it too close to the end of the legislative session for such distractions — as if incumbents ever get much of a run for their money.

Sept. 9 is too late for the federal primary, because it doesn’t provide enough time for voters overseas (e.g. military personnel) to receive their absentee ballots via mail, cast them and get them back to the United States. But the state could have chosen a single date between June 24 and Sept. 9 to hold both primaries — which would have been easier for voters and cheaper for local taxpayers — who will get stuck paying for this needless duplication of services.

Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, who tried unsuccessfully to win a compromise in the Senate, is now sponsoring legislation that would at least reimburse local governments for the primaries’ cost. It’s an unfunded mandate, all right, but one that should come out of lawmakers’ pay, not state taxpayers’.

 

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