Skoufis pitches merged primaries and other reforms

Assemblyman James Skoufis pitched several election reforms for his Senate campaign this week, including early voting and the consolidation of New York’s state and federal primaries.

Skoufis, the Woodbury Democrat running for the 39th Senate District seat that Bill Larkin is vacating, made his announcement on Tuesday as New York was holding its congressional primaries, which were moved back to June from September several years ago because of a federal judge’s order. The state has since kept its primaries for state and local offices in September – a needless expense and duplication of effort that persists because Democratic and Republican lawmakers disagree on when to consolidate the elections.

“The fact that we waste millions of dollars by refusing to consolidate our state and federal primaries because of insider politics is an insult to our taxpayers,” Skoufis said in a statement. “Shame on both Republicans and Democrats for not being able to
find common-ground on this issue, which I will continue to press for once I’m in the Senate.”

Skoufis proposed allowing four days of early voting – including the weekend before an election – as an alternative to the seven-day period the Democratic-controlled Assembly has approved and the Republican-controlled Senate has snubbed. He noted that New York is one of only 13 states that don’t offer early voting.

Skoufis also proposed same-day voter registration, which he said has increased voter participation with no partisan tilt in other states, and letting school districts hold elections in administrative buildings and other non-school sites for security reasons.

Stony Point Councilman Tom Basile, one of two Republicans running for the Senate seat, said he supports having a single state and federal primary in June – the month that Skoufis has backed in the Assembly. He opposed same-day registration, saying it would be susceptible to fraud without voter identification requirements, and opposed early voting, citing the added cost.

“What we should focus on is making it easier for people to obtain absentee ballots so they can, without explanation, apply for and receive a mail-in ballot,” Basile said.

Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis, a Town of Newburgh Republican competing for the same Senate seat, said he supports same-day registration and the four-day early voting Skoufis proposed – with voting at a single location in each county to minimize the cost. He supported consolidating primaries in September, after vacation season ends.

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