Gov. Andrew Cuomo today introduced legislation that would more than double the length of time for a governor to call a special election, a move that will delay a special election in the 26th congressional district in western New York.
Cuomo is seeking a law to conform with federal law and allow enough time for military ballots to be mailed and completed in special elections. The issue has come up in recent special elections, and was cited as the reason why former Gov. David Paterson last year didn’t call a special election in the 29th District, a House seat that runs across the Southern Tier and into the Rochester suburbs. (Although, Paterson was also accused of not calling the special election in the 29th because Republicans were poised to regain the seat, which they ultimately did last November after the seat was vacant since March when Democratic Rep. Eric Massa resigned.)
Under current law, special elections are held between 30 and 40 days from when the governor announces one. Cuomo wants to increase it to between 70 and 80 days. Also, federal law requires boards of elections to send out military ballots within 45 days of a special election—something that can’t be done under current New York law.
“For years, New Yorkers serving in the military abroad have been inadvertently left out of the electoral process,” Cuomo said. “This measure will rectify the discrepancy between New York state and federal laws regarding special elections, allow members of the military to have their voices heard, and ensure fair and accurate representation of the citizens of New York.”
What it means, though, is that Cuomo won’t be calling a special election in the 26th District, which stretches from Erie County to Monroe County, in the near future—or at least until the Legislature adopts the measure.
The seat was vacated earlier this month by Rep. Christopher Lee, R-Clarence, Erie County, after he posed shirtless in an e-mail he sent to a woman he met on Craigslist.
Republicans have picked Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, R-Clarence, for the seat, while Democrats have asked candidates to submit their resumes by March 3. The district has a heavy GOP enrollment edge, about 30,000 more Republicans than Democrats.