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State Election Commissioners Association changes position on primary voting


The New York State Election Commissioners Association revised a proposal calling for a unified primary for local, state and federal offices during their winter meeting in Albany last week.

The association previously had asked for a June primary date but changed its proposal to call for a primary on any date that would allow election commissioners to comply with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act.

The MOVE Act requires that validly requested absentee ballots be provided to voters who fall under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act no later than 45 days before an election for federal office, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

NYSECA President and Saratoga County Democratic Election Commissioner William Fruci said that while he supported the proposal that included the June primary date, the issue went up for a vote on the committee floor and he and other Democratic commissioners were outvoted.

“June is fine with me,” Jefferson County Democratic Election Commissioner Babette M. Hall said.

Ms. Hall said she understood that the complaint against the June primary is that it would make it too difficult to for state representatives to gather support and signatures for designating and nominating petitions in the late winter and spring while the state Legislature is in session.

The Democrats want June and the Republicans don’t want June, according to Jefferson County Republican Commissioner Jerry O. Eaton.

“The argument is that the June primary would be much more difficult on the political parties,” Mr. Eaton said.

The state Republican Party voiced support for the association’s decision in a Jan. 17 news release.

The state Assembly, which is controlled by the Democratic Party, recently passed a bill that would move the date for primary elections for state and federal offices to the fourth Tuesday in June.

Mr. Fruci said that if no consensus is reached between the parties, the state will keep primary voting for federal offices in June and for state and local offices in September.

The state September primary date falls close to the deadline for sending ballots overseas. The state was granted an exemption from the MOVE Act in 2010 but denied an exemption in 2012.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russel, D-Theresa, who last week called on the state Senate to take up the legislation, said, “We need to have this discussion, it should be one of our top priorities, that’s why we voted on it so early.”

IMPORTANT DATES in the 2014 political calendar
The following are important dates for candidates to keep in mind in 2014:
• First date to circulate designating petitions for federal office: March 4
• First date to circulate Opportunity to Ballot petitions for federal office: March 25
• Dates to file designating petitions: April 7 to April 10
• Last date to file Opportunity to Ballot petitions: April 17
• Federal primary election: June 24
• First date to circulate independent nominating petitions for federal office: June 24
• Dates to file independent nominating petitions for federal office: July 29 to Aug. 5
• General election: Nov. 4
* The state Board of Elections has not yet released a calendar with dates for state and local elections.
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