Counties Fight to Preserve Local Elections
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) renewed it’s opposition to a legislative proposal that will require local elections be held on even years, when the president and government are up for election.
At the very end of session, with little public notice and in the middle of the night, the State Legislature passed a bill that would move many local elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years.
Governor Hochul has not yet signed this bill as it has not yet been sent to her desk. That is why delegates at the NYSAC Fall Seminar unanimously adopted a resolution asking Governor Kathy Hochul to veto this legislation for several reasons, including but not limited to the fact that it curtails local home rule authority, will result in less attention to local issues at stake in local elections, will not result in taxpayer savings or more efficiency, and was not vetted by local leaders or subject to public hearings.
We have significant concerns regarding this legislation. First, in even-year elections, state and national politics will drown out local concerns that have a direct impact on the everyday lives of New Yorkers. It is this very reason why some municipalities have constitutional protections to have odd-year elections – so the focus can be on local issues.
The State Board of Elections has also recently weighed in on the measure, suggesting the logistical challenges of expanding the ballet in even years will be a technological and practical nightmare.
Additionally, evidence has shown that the longer the ballot, the higher the likelihood that voters will not vote for down-ballot races, which is where local candidates will fall.
Counties have seen no analysis that this proposal would save any money as there are city races and county offices including Sheriff, Treasurer, Clerk and District Attorney that will still be held in odd years, negating any purported savings.
NYSAC members who are opposed to this proposed new law, there is still time to voice your concerns. Please consider adopting a resolution or sending a letter asking the Governor to veto this ill-conceived bill.
Visit the website www.PreserveLocalElections.com for more information on the negative impacts of this legislation. The bottom line is this: proponents of this legislation claim it will encourage more robust voter participation in local elections, but this is misleading.
- This legislation will result in less attention to local elections, not more.
- This legislation will likely decrease voter participation in local elections, because of ballot fatigue.
- This legislation will not save local governments a dime.
- Local governments never asked for these changes and were not consulted by lawmakers.