The New York state presidential primaries are officially postponed until June 23, consolidating them with the state congressional and legislative primary elections. The move gives officials more time to work out safe voting procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak.
With the state’s focus turned to mitigating the coronavirus outbreak, this executive order made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week moved the primaries scheduled for April 28 and indefinitely postponed the village elections which had already been rescheduled once since March 18.
“I had advocated that it be on that date all along anyway, so there’s only one election and people only needed to come out once,” said Cuomo on the election consolidation.
The New York State Conference of Mayors (NYCOM) announced on March 30, that they are still awaiting orders from Cuomo about when the village elections will be rescheduled as it was not stated in the executive order.
“To avoid the complications of holding the election on the same day as the June 23 presidential and state primaries, NYCOM has requested that the Governor reschedule the postponed village elections for June 16,” said NYCOM Executive Director Peter A. Baynes in a letter to New York local officials.
Local government concerns on consolidating with the presidential and state government primaries involve logistics of voters possibly needing to vote at a different poll site for the village elections, which NYCOM could see influencing voter turnout.
Voting groups and legislators had been pushing for Cuomo to reschedule the primary election in weeks prior, as the state is continuously hit by the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak.
As of March 31, New York has over 75,000 positive cases.
Pro-democracy group Common Cause New York released a white paper last week with recommendations to the state on how to effectively vote during this time with a revised absentee ballot voting plan.
Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York, believes the state needed this election delay to avoid a strictly mail-in ballot system which she thinks would overwhelm the ability to count votes and leave out New Yorkers with outdated address information.
“Consolidating the presidential primary to June 23rd is the right move to protect voters’ health and free up much needed funding for more immediate public health needs,” said Lerner. “Next, New York lawmakers must expand absentee voting to ensure all voters can exercise their right to vote, no matter the situation.”
The League of Women Voters of New York State have also backed Cuomo’s decision to move the election to not only keep voters safe, but allow more time for transparency with New Yorkers on all the changes still to come.