Despite the tough weather and significant amount of snow on the ground, the political calendar is in full swing. Unfortunately, the configuration of the political calendar could be costly to taxpayers and inconvenient to some voters.
The state has decided to again have separate primary days prior to the general election in November. A primary for federal elections would be held in June and a primary for state, county and local offices in September.
This configuration for primaries was in place during 2012. Turnout for a federal primary that year was anemic at best and barely in the double-digits for percentage of voters participating. Unfortunately, counties had to shoulder the costs for a primary in which very few voters participated, at an added cost of $60,000 for Rensselaer County.
While there is a strong likelihood there will no federal primary this year, there is the very real possibility that in coming years, there will be federal primaries and millions in additional costs to state taxpayers. All during a time when fiscal challenges are placed dramatic pressure on county governments. More needs to be done by the state to consolidate expenses by consolidating primary elections.
Many voters have remarked that the past configuration of one primary and one general election seemed to have worked well for voters. It certainly worked in terms of helping local governments avoid considerable expenses for staging an additional primary election.
One additional wrinkle: Under the election calendar set by the state, nominating petitions for federal office will be collected starting Tuesday, March 4. A second set of nominating petitions will be collected starting in late spring or early summer.