Primary Adoption Date Should Have Been Pushed To 2020

It makes sense that state and federal primaries will now be scheduled on the same day.

Having primaries on different days made little sense. It was costly to counties to have to hold separate elections and the process likely played a role in low voter turnout. Ramming the combined date through the state Legislature to start in 2019, however, is going to create problems that could hurt representation at the most local levels of government.

The federal primary used to be held in June while the state primary was held in September. Now, all primaries will be held in June. Combining the dates doesn’t just affect state and federal candidates — it also affects primaries in local races by pushing all of the dates associated with running for office much earlier in the year. Jamestown City Council candidates, for example, used to be able to make a decision on their candidacy in the spring and then didn’t have to do much until the fall. The earlier calendar to get petitions for office printed means local parties need to have their candidates lined up by mid-February to allow ample time for candidates interested in mounting a primary challenge the time to circulate their own petitions, have them certified by the Board of Elections, get primary election ballots printed and then have a primary election in June.

Again, it makes sense for the state to adopt the earlier federal date for primary elections. The date should have been pushed into 2020, however, to allow local political party officials the time to line up candidates. Making the changes immediate doesn’t hurt state and federal party operatives because there isn’t much happening for federal and state office. Locally, the November election is a busy one with the entire Chautauqua County Legislature, the entire Jamestown City Council and a host of other town positions up for grabs. Anyone thinking about running for office had better make up their minds quickly, or they could miss the boat for 2019.

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