Fed, State Primaries Align

The New York State Senate passed a series of bills to reform the electoral system last week, one of which will result in federal and state primary elections being held on the same day in June. 

A Jan. 14 statement issued by the State Senate, which flipped from a Republican to a Democratic majority in the November 2018 election, said that the legislation was passed “to improve New York State’s broken electoral system.” The state “consistently ranks as one of the worst voter turnout states in the nation,” the statement said.

Democrats also control the Assembly. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who is expected to sign the bills into law, is a Democrat.  

“I’m thrilled that they’re consolidating the primaries,” Cate Rogers, chairwoman of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee, said on Monday. “Voters get fatigued” by multiple elections, she said, and “campaigns have to spend twice the money. It’s unnecessary.” 

Manny Vilar, who was elected as chairman of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee last month, agreed that aligning the state and federal primary elections is a positive development, as are the other reform measures. 

“It puts us more in sync with everything,” he said on Monday. Both Mr. Vilar and Ms. Rogers said that their respective committees are already moving to start the process of screening candidates for this year’s elections. 

The legislation scheduling federal and state primaries on the same date is also intended to ensure that the state’s election law complies with the federal Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. 

In addition, the new legislation amends election law to hold limited liability companies, or L.L.C.s, to the same aggregate $5,000 contribution limit that applies to corporations. Current law allows an individual to make multiple contributions to the same candidate or committee through separate L.L.C.s. 

The amendment also requires disclosure of the identity and proportion of ownership of direct and indirect owners of an L.L.C.’s membership, and requires all of such an organization’s contributions to political committees or campaigns to be attributed to each member of the L.L.C. in proportion to his or her ownership interest. 

The State Constitution will be amended to allow for any voter to request to vote by mail without declaring a reason, subject to second passage by the next Legislature and approval by a statewide referendum. Also enacted, subject to the same conditions, is an amendment to the State Constitution removing the 10-day advance voter registration requirement. Reform measures establish an early voting system, as well, allowing eligible voters to vote in person during a designated period. 

Another amendment will require the board of elections to transfer a voter’s registration and enrollment to wherever he or she moves within the state. Finally, 16 and 17-year-olds will be able to preregister to vote, and local boards of education will be required to adopt policies to promote student voter registration and preregistration.