$50 million in taxpayer savings and increased voter turnout called for by City Council resolution to consolidate NY primaries

New York, New York (May 14, 2014) – Council Member Ben Kallos is introducing a resolution today to create a single, consolidated primary for New York State, saving taxpayers $50 million. Currently, New York has dual primaries – a federal primary in June and a state and local primary in September. A consolidated primary, long advocated for by good government groups, is currently the subject of a timing debate in the State Senate. The Council resolution calls on the governor to sign into law A.8198, the overwhelmingly passed Assembly bill sponsored by Speaker Silver to consolidate primaries, and for the Senate to pass and the governor to sign S.6204, the accompanying bill sponsored by Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in the State Senate. Consolidating primaries would save taxpayers $50 million, according to the New York Times, and many good government groups believe it will improve turnout and reduce confusion. The Senate G.O.P. has advocated for an August consolidated primary, when many New Yorkers are on vacation. If unresolved, New York defaults to a dual primary.
 
“Albany dysfunction has tangible costs to taxpayers: In this case, it’s $50 million,” said Kallos. “I call on Senators Skelos and Klein to stop obstructing this needed reform. Rarely can elected officials take a single vote with such clear benefits to taxpayers and voters.”

Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Holding a single primary election for federal and state elected officials is a common sense way to save our taxpayers at least $50 million by avoiding a costly second election day. The legislation I have sponsored will also help increase voter turnout, giving more New Yorkers a voice in the electoral process and who represents their interests on the local, state and federal levels. I commend Councilman Kallos for joining with me to advance this good government initiative and I will continue my efforts to bring this legislation before the full Senate for a vote.”
 
"Having two primaries will cost taxpayers at least $50 million. But more than that, it violates the spirit of the law guaranteeing members of the military serving overseas enough time to get their ballots in. The Senate majority is literally forcing local governments to spend money on an extra election that, because it falls so late in the calendar, could disenfranchise military voters. That's unconscionable and breathtakingly hypocritical," said State Senator Liz Krueger.

"New York's absurd dual primary system is a waste of money and undoubtedly leads to lower turnout than a single unified election," said Neal Rosenstein, Government Reform Coordinator of the New York Public Interest Research Group.  "New York used to have a single June primary.  It's time to return to that common sense approach to save money, increase turnout and help guarantee that military and absentee voters will have enough time to mail in ballots for the General Election.  We urge that the resolution from Council Member Kallos be passed," he added.
 
“The League of Women Voters of New York State and the League of Women Voters of New York City have been strongly in favor of a combined primary for a long time and support Councilman Kallos in his efforts,” said Mary Lou Urban, League of Women Voters of New York City Co-President.
 
"Democracy is about maximizing the voice of the many over the authority of an elite few. New Yorkers don't need the added cost and confusion of three primary dates, nor do they need to cut short their summer vacations for an August election. A June date will make it possible for members of the military serving overseas to be counted, and encourage overall higher turnout at the polls," said Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause/NY.
 
"Our primary elections in New York State are long overdue for reform. Having two elections leads to waste and confusion. It's time for Albany to end this nonsensical approach by passing legislation to increase turnout and ensure more New Yorkers have a voice,” said Executive Director of New Roosevelt Bill Samuels.
 

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