Senate Passes Bill to Set April 19, 2016, as Date of the Presidential Primary in New York

June 18, 2015

The New York State Senate today passed legislation designating the date of April 19th for the 2016 presidential primary in New York. The bill (S5958) is sponsored by Senator Rich Funke (R-C-I, Fairport), Chairman of the Senate’s Election Committee, and protects the rights of military and overseas voters by giving them adequate time to receive ballots and vote in the election, while also preventing the election from taking place during the observance of Passover.

The Democratic National Committee has proposed an alternative presidential primary date of April 26, 2016, which would result in the election being held in the middle of Passover week. The bill passed by the Senate today eliminates any potential conflict for voters who observe Passover.

Senator Funke said, “This is a common-sense solution that would give military and overseas voters more time to participate in our democratic process and ensure those who observe Passover can do so freely. We are fortunate to live in a nation where every vote counts, so it’s important that we take this step to allow even more voices to be heard in next year’s presidential primary process. I urge the Assembly to do the same by supporting this bill.”

Senator Jack Martins (R-C-I, Mineola), a co-sponsor of the legislation, said, “Holding the presidential primary in the middle of Passover is absurd and disrespectful to the many Jewish voters throughout New York. No one should  have to choose between observing one of their most sacred holidays or exercising one of their most sacred rights. This is a common-sense measure that must be passed by the Assembly and signed into law.”

The enactment of the federal Military Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act requires that ballots for military and overseas voters be sent at least 45 days prior to an election to ensure their receipt in time for the voter to vote and return their ballot to be counted. A U.S. District Court ordered that the primary election for federal office in New York be moved to the fourth Tuesday in June. The court explicitly stated in the order that this date could be changed by the state if it adopted a date that complies with the MOVE Act. This bill would amend the law and ensures that New York State complies with the federal MOVE Act.

The bill will be sent to the Assembly.