Ulster County Legislature Expected To Support Bill Urging State Reimbursement To Counties for Holding Two Mandatory Election Primaries

Posted April 15, 2014

Local Governments are once again being forced to bear the cost of two Primary Day elections, one for Congressional races and a second for State races. In 2012 a Federal judge ruled that New York's September Primary was not in compliance with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act, which ensures that military and overseas voter ballots are received in time to be counted. The judge ordered Congressional Primaries be moved from September to June to comply with the MOVE Act. But his decision did not impact State elections. The State Legislature would have to act in order to move the State Primary.

Despite plenty of notice and experiencing the cost of a second primary in 2012, the State leaders have been unable to agree on a single primary date. “It is critical that our military and overseas voters have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote and be counted”, stated Ulster County Legislator and originating sponsor of the Ulster County resolution, Lynn Archer.

In 2012, Ulster County spent $72,609.66 for the Federal primary in June and $62,432.69 for the State and local primary in September. “It has been four years since the Federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act and two years since we felt the financial punch of these two primaries. That is long enough to debate and decide. It is now time for the State to pay for their inaction and not put the burden on the back of the taxpayers,” commented Legislator Archer.

Legislator Archer sponsored an Ulster County resolution in support of New York Senate Bill 06417 and Assembly Bill 08740 which would amend the election law and reimburse the Counties and the City of New York for the costs associated with administering primary elections. The text of this resolution can be found at http://www.ulstercountyny.gov/sites/default/files/147-14_0.pdf.

As the sponsor of Senate Bill 06417, Ulster County’s own New York Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk stated, “"I'm very proud that my proposal to reimburse cash-strapped local governments for the cost of a second, wasteful Primary Day Election has been supported by local governments, editorial boards and good government groups across the State. My bill would provide $50 million of mandate relief to local governments and property tax relief to homeowners, two things everyone agrees are critical to the economic health of our state."