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Lawmakers haggling over election dates

Albany may decide on three elections next year as an underground fight continues over the dates for a primary election. It is possible there will be a Congressional primary election in June and local primary elections in September, costing millions of dollars extra to hold both, separate from the November general election.

The key issue is that Senate Republicans don't want a June primary because that would mean campaigning while the Legislature is in the late stages of a session. This year, there is a fight for control of the Senate.

Senator Patrick Gallivan, who sits on the Elections Committee, favors a third choice.

"I believe that there is a solution and the solution would not be to have a primary in June but rather in August. That way you are able to accomplish meeting the federal requirements as far as getting absentee ballots to military people serving overseas," Gallivan says.

Federal law making sure military personnel on active duty can get their ballots and return them in time has meant earlier votes for any federal office which leads to June primaries. Because state legislative races are not federal they can be held in September, although that can make military ballots a problem.

If there are three elections, it will cost more since in Erie County alone an election costs $125,000 to $200,000. There are 62 counties, in all.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.