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Cuomo's call for special elections shortchanges voters

February 12,2018 04:37

Gov. Cuomo must be nervous about his November re-election prospects. Why else, after all, did he just cave in to party bosses and call special elections for April 24? The elections are to fill 11 vacant seats in the Legislature — two in the Senate and ...


Gov. Cuomo must be nervous about his November re-election prospects. Why else, after all, did he just cave in to party bosses and call special elections for April 24?
The elections are to fill 11 vacant seats in the Legislature — two in the Senate and nine in the Assembly. But in New York, candidates in special elections are handpicked by party bosses rather than chosen by voters in open primaries.
So voters won’t get full say over whom they want representing them. Plus, the 11 lawmakers elected in April will have an advantage as the incumbents when primaries roll around in September.
Cuomo could’ve easily let voters decide for themselves in September. The extra months wouldn’t have mattered much, since the legislative session ends in June, and budget and key policy issues are usually settled by the April 1 start of the fiscal year.
In past years with regularly scheduled elections, Cuomo held off from calling for specials. He correctly cited not only the rights of voters to choose their own candidates but also the multimillion-dollar cost of holding additional elections.
True, in off years, he has called for them — because if he didn’t, voters would be left too long with vacancies in seats representing them.
Yet this isn’t an off-year. So along with the April voting, voters will now also go to the polls for congressional primaries in June, the September legislative primaries and the November general election.
That’s not only wasteful and anti-democratic; it also goes against principles Cuomo himself has backed.
The logical conclusion here is the gov aims to please the bosses rather than voters. Take it as a sign of his priorities.

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