Monday, December 22, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: A Primary Date to Consider

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A small but dedicated group of voters in five Congressional districts in the city will head to the polls tomorrow to vote in primaries that few New Yorkers know anything about.

The June primary date came about two years ago when a federal judge ordered the state to move its Congressional primaries from September to ensure that members of the armed services who were serving abroad would have enough time to get their absentee ballots for the general election.

The ruling, however, does not apply to statewide and legislative primaries – meaning that voters are still being asked to return to the polls in September, and then again in November for the general election. (And who knows what happens with those overseas absentee ballots for those races?)

In the aftermath of the last year's mayoral election which had record low turnout, we probably need to do everything we can to encourage more people to vote – besides handing out lollipops at polling sites.

State lawmakers have resisted moving the date, though, probably because it would require them to campaign while dealing with their work in the legislature – which typically doesn't let out until June. But if we care anything about voter participation, a unified primary date makes a lot of sense. With the presidential primary in 2016, we will be asking voters to head to the polls four times when it's hard enough getting them there once. While Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino aren't agreeing on much in the governor's race, this could be a place where they both could find some common ground. There will likely be a lot of empty polling sites tomorrow. And suddenly, lollipops are looking pretty cheap.

Bob Hardt

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