EDITORIAL: Move all of New York’s primaries to fix Democrats’ mess

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Every once in a while you read a story about some hiker taking a selfie in some national park who falls down a cliff because he or she ventured too far out on the edge to get the ultimate photo.

They were so obsessed with themselves that they didn’t appreciate the obvious risk, and they paid the price.

So it is with state Democrats, who became so enamored with their own power and opportunity that they ventured too far in creating congressional and state Senate districts. So they paid the price.

And they’re making us all pay it, too.

On Wednesday, the state’s highest court — appointed entirely by Democratic governors, by the way — threw out their congressional and state Senate maps as being too partisan and because an independent redistricting commission has the authority to create the maps, not the Legislature.

Like the hiker and the selfie, state Democrats could have gotten a very acceptable outcome for themselves, in their case through the independent commission, had they not gotten full of themselves and pushed the envelope too far.

The bottom line for Democrats is that now some independent body or “special master” will redraw the lines, and those lines will be less favorable toward them than had they used some common sense and restraint and drawn district lines that were more reasonable and fair in the first place.

The problem this creates now is not just for the Democratic Party, but for candidates, the voters and the entire state election system.

The state has political party primaries scheduled for June. Early voting for the June 28 primary begins on June 18, just 50 days from now. That might not give an independent redistricting board or master enough time to redraw lines that are acceptable to the courts and also give elections officials time to print out and mail absentee ballots.

Right now, congressional and Senate candidates don’t even know what districts they’ll be running in, and they have little time to campaign in their actual districts once the lines are finalized if the primary remains in June.

Postponing the primaries is an obvious solution.

Except that races for state Assembly and statewide offices like governor, comptroller and attorney general are not affected by the court decision on the district lines.

As a result, the state is apparently considering holding primaries for Assembly and statewide races in June and then holding a second primary for congressional and state Senate primaries in August — a ridiculous option that will be confusing and cumbersome to both candidates and voters.

The best solution would be for the state to postpone all the primaries until September, when they used to be held, and hold only one primary election for all state and federal seats based on the new district maps.

Holding elections during the summer all but guarantees low voter turnout. And voters have shown they don’t like being called to the voting booth multiple times during the same calendar year.

A single fall primary would give the courts time to approve new boundaries, give candidates adequate time to gather petitions and target their campaigning to the correct voters, and give boards of election more time to prepare ballots and set new deadlines.

Democrats created this mess because they overextended themselves.

As a result, we’re all paying the price for it.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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