Albany lawmakers are unable to agree on an earlier date for the New York City primaries, even after the city Board of Elections has sounded the alarm about the potential for chaos if the elections are held as scheduled in September.
In an interview with NBC 4 New York on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos rejected the board's proposal to move the primary to June, saying lawmakers would end up skipping important votes and hearings to hit the campaign trail during the spring legislative session.
The board says holding the primaries in September is problematic because of the unusually crowded fields in the Democratic and Republican races for mayor. The law says if no candidate gets 40 percent of the vote in a primary, a runoff must be held two weeks later.
Local election officials say that because the new scanner machines have a more time-consuming counting process, there won't be enough time to count the votes, hold a runoff and reset the machines in time for the general election in November.
Skelos tells NBC 4 New York that he would agree to move the primary to August, to give election officials a little more time to prepare for the general election.
But Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver nixed that idea.
In a statement, a Silver spokesman said “an August primary will only result in low voter participation.”
Board of Elections President Frederic Umane said the failure to agree on an earlier date could mean chaos in the fall, and told NBC 4 New York that the board is considering suing the state to force a solution.
“We physically cannot conduct a runoff using the scanning equipment we have now,” Umane said.