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Lawmakers considering election changes

Jun 09, 2023 1:03 pm

Kate Lisa reports at New York State of Politics that as the legislature in Albany comes to a close, lawmakers are expected to approve a last minute bill to move most town and county elections to even-numbered years. Bill sponsor Sen. James Skoufis says the idea is to get more people voting. He said, "As it stands right now, in a lot of these local, town and county elections, you have 20 or so percent of voters deciding the outcome for the entire jurisdiction.... Why are you so afraid of 50, 60, 70 percent of voters determining who should hold these local positions?" But the bill is only a half-measure, as it would not apply to city or village elections, nor for county clerk, sheriff, district attorneys, and elections for local judges protected in the state Constitution to be held in odd-numbered years. Michael Zurlo, president of the state Association of Counties and the Clinton County Administrator, said, "In local elections forced to be with state and national elections, it's going to suck up the media time — it's going to take the air out of the room.... How is that a town board member or a county legislator or supervisor is going to have the opportunity in the platform to discuss real issues — issues that affect the day-to-day concerns of their communities? Are they going to be able to afford a 6 p.m. news slot? Probably not." Gov. Kathy Hochul seemed to be leaning in favor of the bill, saying on June 7 that, "If you're talking about turnout I would say having a year when there's more people turning out for a presidential or gubernatorial race, it's an increase in turnout, and more people voting in these elections is always better for democracy," the governor said. "But I've not had a chance to look at the details." Read more about this story at New York State of Politics.

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