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Elect a good date

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Getting voters to the polls is difficult enough without having confusing dates for elections.

But this is what people face in New York state. The primaries for federal offices are held during one part of the year (June) while primaries for state and municipal offices are held at another part of the year (September).

State officials are discussing a plan to unify these dates, but there is disagreement about which part of the year to select. Of course, it became a partisan issue.

“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,” according to a Friday story in the Watertown Daily Times. “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,” the story reported. “[Jefferson County Democratic Election Commissioner Babette M. 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.”

Meanwhile, members of the state Assembly passed a bill moving the federal and state primaries to the fourth Tuesday in June. If they were wise, they would choose an early date in September for a unified primary date.

The further it is held from the general election, the less interest there is in the primary. So by moving the primary closer to the general election, the more enthusiasm it will generate.

If state officials choose the first Tuesday in September, for example, this would allow enough time to comply with the MOVE Act. It’s time to make things simple and come up with single date for all primaries.

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