BOE Considers Moving Up Mayoral Primary
New York's political calendar could be shifting yet again. The city's Board of Elections is seeking a change that could result in next year's September mayoral primary being moved up by several months. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
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Already, the Democratic hopefuls for mayor have been busy raising cash in anticipation of a crowded primary next September. Only now, that primary could take place as early as June.
At issue is a potential runoff election, which by law must be held two weeks after the primary if no candidate gets 40 percent of the vote.
"It turns out that two weeks is not going to be enough time," said Board of Elections Commissioner J.C. Polanco.
In May, the New York City Board of Elections sent state leaders a letter requesting a 30-day window before any potential runoff. That would likely require pushing up the primary date.
Unlike the old lever machines, the new voting system uses paper ballots. Printing 2.5 million of them takes up to a week and the new electronic scanners require special handling.
"The new system requires a whole slew of certification, programming and testing that the old lever system didn’t," Polanco said.
Some good-government groups said it may be time to move to so-called instant runoff voting, where voters rank candidates in order.
"We’ve had three primary dates in 2012," said Dick Dadey of the Citizens Union. "The solution is not, yet again, changing the primary date to a date that people are not used to but rather, maybe changing the process by which elections are conducted."
An earlier primary probably won't make much difference to candidates, who've already been raising money. But political observers said it could deter newcomers from joining the race and could help the frontrunner.
"Polls are fairly inconsistent this early but whoever is the frontrunner, yeah, the sooner the primary is the better," said political consultant Jerry Skurnik.
For now, polls show the frontrunner is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who said Wednesday in a statement that "The BOE must meet the legal requirement to hold a runoff election within a two-week period."
Any change must go through the state legislature. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver supports the move. Gov. Andrew Cuomo hasn't revealed his opinion yet.
"It didn’t come up this year," he said. "If it comes up next year, we will talk about it then."