State urged to finance unplanned primary

Albany lawmakers are calling on the state to fund an additional primary election, scheduled for Aug. 23 to give candidates time to campaign in new districts after redrawn state Senate and congressional maps were tossed. Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — As county Boards of Elections stare down the challenge of hosting a second primary for the state Senate and congressional districts on Aug. 23, a group of lawmakers is calling for the state to cover the extra costs.

On Tuesday, a federal judge finalized that New York will have to hold the state Senate and congressional primaries in late August, to provide enough time for candidates to campaign in their new districts. New York’s original district maps were struck down in court earlier this year, and the new district lines won’t be released until next week.

The second primary means county BOEs will have to pick up an estimated $25 million in additional costs this year, funded by their county government’s tax base.

Jefferson County Republican Election Commissioner Jude R. Seymour on Wednesday said he anticipates Jefferson County will have to pay an additional $50,000 or more for the August primary, and other neighboring counties like St. Lawrence could pay over $100,000.

On May 5, state Sen. James N. Tedisco, R-Glensville, introduced legislation that would require the state government to pick up the full cost of the state Senate and congressional primaries on Aug. 23, provided the local BOE also holds the primary for governor, Assembly and local offices as scheduled on June 28.

Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, is one of the bill’s original Senate co-sponsors alongside eight other Republican senators.

In a statement Thursday, she said this estimated $25 million burden statewide shouldn’t be borne by county budgets.

“Taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for Albany’s dysfunction,” Sen. Ritchie said. “This legislation will help ensure local governments and their taxpayers won’t be saddled with yet another unfunded mandate.”

On Thursday, Assemblyman Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, co-sponsored the legislation’s Assembly version.

“Taxpayers are already overburdened with the rising costs of inflation. Gasoline is at an all-time high, groceries – if you can even find them – are too expensive, and Albany has done nothing about it,” Assemblyman Walczyk said in a statement announcing his support for the legislation.

He said New York’s political leaders wasted time focused on drawing and defending their electoral maps, which cut the number of safely Republican congressional districts from eight to four.

The Assembly version of the bill was introduced Thursday by Assemblyman John J. Salka, R-Brookfield.

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I write about north country politics, Jefferson County and the northern shoreline towns of Lyme, Cape Vincent, Clayton and Alexandria Bay

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