Next month, voters who are affiliated with a political party will head to the polls to decide on the candidates who will appear on the November ballot, for the U.S. House of Representatives. In September they’ll have to head back to the voting booths for another primary, to select candidates for all the state races, such as Assembly and Senate. Then there’s the November election.
Taking part in elections is one of the greatest rights we have as U.S. citizens: the ability to choose our leaders — and to choose new ones if we’re unhappy with those we have. But elections cost money to run, and the system in New York needs to run more efficiently.
Why do we need two primary dates? That means opening up all the polling sites twice, paying poll workers twice and printing two sets of ballots. In New York state, the cost of running a primary election approaches $50 million, which is borne by the county boards of elections and, ultimately, local taxpayers.
There is much debate in the State Legislature about possibly changing the date of the state primary. It’s good that it’s up for discussion, but unfortunately, a resolution doesn’t appear to be in the cards. A Republican-led bill in the Senate would move the primary up to late August, while Democrats in the Assembly are looking to move it to June to coincide with the federal primary.
A federal law requires that ballots for members of the military who are serving overseas be sent out at least 45 days before the general election. A September primary date doesn’t allow enough time for results to be certified and ballots to be printed and mailed, and holding it in August doesn’t make sense to us either, because so many people take vacations then and would miss it.