Two elections. One day. One seat. And much potential for voter confusion.
That’s the word that contenders for Queens borough president kept returning to when discussing how both the special election and the primaries for that seat are scheduled for June 23.
Five of the six special election candidates are now joining government watchdogs in calling for only that race to be held, with the term extended through 2021. There’d be no need for the primaries or the November general election for the seat.
“We need to make this simple,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides (D). “The world is a very complicated place right now, very complicated.”
“To have voters vote twice can be very confusing,” said former councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D).
“Two elections in the same day will confuse our voters,” said Dao Yin, a former robotics company executive.
“It’s kind of confusing,” said retired NYPD sergeant Anthony Miranda. “And it disenfranchises the voters when you combine the two.”
“We think that that’s responsible for both taxpayers and voters,” James Quinn, a former Queens assistant district attorny, said.
Common Cause New York and the city's Campaign Finance Board want just the nonpartisan special election, noting that holding two elections on June 23 could result in two winners.
The special election had originally been set for March 24, but amid COVID-19 concerns, Governor Cuomo rescheduled it to coincide with various primaries being held June 23.
As it stands now, the victor of the special election would serve through the end of this year.
Then the nominees from the primaries would go on to the general election in November, with that winner serving through 2021.
Meanwhile, there’s one special election candidate who isn’t yet joining the chorus to drop the primaries in favor of one race.
Queens Democratic Party-backed Councilman Donovan Richards (D) said his lawyers are looking into the simultaneous June elections.
“But let me just add that the safety and health of our poll workers and voters remains to be the highest priority to this campaign,” Richards added.
Mayor de Blasio has urged Cuomo to hold just the special election.
And with the crisis ongoing, in-person voting could still be a health hazard come June. Candidates including Crowley are urging the use of mail-in voting with every voter automatically receiving a ballot.
Candidates including Constantinides add that they want to make sure the early-voting ballots cast in March, before the special election was postponed, are still counted.
More than 2,600 Queens voters participated in that process.