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State lawmakers can't agree on primary date

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: State lawmakers can't agree on primary date
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- State lawmakers want to align state and federal primaries on one date to avoid having multiple costly elections, but Senate Republicans have introduced a bill moving both primaries to the third Tuesday in August.

That competes with an Assembly-passed bill that would move state primary elections to the third Tuesday in June.

"June would work because that is when the federal elections are. The federal primaries are set for June and that is what they were last cycle. It's a better fit to have the state primaries in June," said Michael Cusick, D-Staten Island.

Previously, a federal judge moved New York's congressional primaries to June to comply with federal law governing the mailing out of overseas ballots. New York's September date was too close to the general election.

But the state legislature has discretion to change the date.

"I think keeping it more in line with our traditional calendar in New York. Closer to September when we've had it. I don't think either date is optimal, August or June because of the summer season that we are in and dealing with that," said state Sen. Thomas O'Mara, R-Elmira.

Time is clearly running out for a June date, with petitioning set to begin in a month. And the fact that legislation was introduced Monday to move the date to August shows that the two sides are far apart.

Members of the Independent Democratic Conference, who control the Senate with Republicans say a June primary is too disruptive for state elections, since legislators are supposed to be in Albany working and not campaigning in their districts.

"We normally spend a lot of time in June passing bills because that is when our legislative session ends. That is the choice of the legislature. If we had a June primary certainly we could find some other time to do that legislator work," said Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan.

The Cuomo administration is agnostic about when the primary should be. The governor believes the primaries should align on one day but doesn't care if that is June or August.

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