Monday, June 27, 2011

Gubernatorial Signature Expected on New York Presidential Primary Bill

According to the Associated Press, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to sign the recently passed SB 5753, the legislation to shift the New York presidential primary from February to April. The governor, or surrogates from his office, huddled with legislators of both parties to determine the date for the primary. Governor Cuomo's signature, it seems, is nothing more than a foregone conclusion.

That said, FHQ takes exception with the last statement in the AP account:
The state Board of Elections says a new bill is passed every four years to establish the date of the presidential primary.
Now, we have gotten wind through back channels that our 2012 presidential primary calendar had, in earlier months, been frowned upon by some within the New York state Board of Elections. Having been asked about New York defying national party delegate selection rules, the response was always what you read above: Something new is done every four years about the presidential primary election law and this current law is part of that trend. Notice that I didn't repeat what was said exactly; specifically in regard to the date. It is true that the legislature quadrennially tinkers with the process governing the election of delegates to the national conventions, but that does not always include changing or resetting the date every four years.

The archives for legislation on the New York legislature's information website go back as far as 1995 (the year a date would have been set for the 1996 elections) and there is nothing to indicate in those laws changes that the legislature creates a new law every four years regarding the presidential primary. In fact, in 1995, 1999 and 2003 nothing was done to change section 8-100 of the Laws of New York. Nothing was done to change the date of the primary from the first Tuesday in March until 2007 when the legislature passed legislation moving the primary from that date to the first Tuesday in February. And even that legislation said that that date could not be changed other than through an act of the legislature.

As I said the other day in the post about the situation in New York, the way the law would be after this legislation is signed, it specifically names April 24, 2012 as the date of the primary. That wasn't how the law was changed in 2007 and would require an act of the legislature to alter it in 2015. In other words, the primary date was clear heading into the 2012 cycle -- the first Tuesday in Febuary -- but it won't be in 2015.

And I'll be more than willing to accept any more concrete evidence that the Board of Elections in New York has to throw at this matter. FHQ will not tell them their business. But as it stands, it is not at all clear that the legislature changes/resets the date as a custom every four years.

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