Governor approves new redistricting lines
YATES COUNTY—Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a redistricting proposal from N.Y. State legislators that will have Yates County continuing to be represented by Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R-C-I, Corning) and State Sen. Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats). Cuomo signed off on the new lines for assembly and senate on Wednesday, March 14, three days after the plan was introduced by the state legislature.
Assembly and Senate lines in the state are being redrawn as a result of the 2010 Census. While Yates would have the same representatives in Albany, the county will end up in different districts for both assembly and senate. For assembly, Yates will move from the 136th to the 132nd district. Along with Yates, the current 136th assembly district also covers all of Steuben County. In the new 132nd district, Yates will be joined by all of Schuyler and parts of Steuben, Chemung and Tioga Counties.
With regards to the senate, Yates will move from the 53rd to the 58th district. However, the alignment for those districts will be exactly the same. As is the case with the current 53rd, Yates will remain in a senate district with Schuyler, Steuben, Chemung, and part of Tompkins Counties.
State legislators originally came up with a realignment plan for assembly and senate in January. That proposal would have placed Yates County in the 131st assembly district represented by Brian Kolb (R-C-I, Canandaigua). For senate, the county still would have been represented by O’Mara in the 58th district. However, those lines were vetoed by Cuomo.
Amy Daines and Robert Brechko, the commissioners of the county’s Board of Elections, said they have no problems with the new lines since Yates would not face any drastic changes. Brechko said the bigger issue is completing this process as quickly as possible so the board of elections can begin preparing for upcoming primary elections. “It’s basically whatever they (state legislature) do, we will accept,” he stated. “It just needs to be done so we can move forward.”
Brechko explained the top priority for the county is ensuring that primaries are held on two separate dates, as opposed to three, during the 2012 election year. So far, two primary election dates have been set in the state. The presidential primary is scheduled for April 24. A recent ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe set June 26 as the primary date for federal offices. The primary for state positions was supposed to be Sept. 11, but that was put in question after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit claiming the date violated the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act. The MOVE Act requires states to hold primaries at least 80 days before a general election.
Last December, the Yates County legislature approved a resolution requesting primaries for state and federal offices to be held on the same day. The request was made following the lawsuit regarding the Sept. 11 election. Daines noted the county would save roughly $18,500 this year by having one less election. After Sharpe made his ruling on the federal primary, Assembly Speaker Sheldon (D-Manhattan) introduced a bill calling for the state primary to also be held June 26. According to Brechko, that legislation was passed by the assembly on Wednesday, March 14 and now awaits approval from the senate. However, he added until redistricting lines are confirmed, the county cannot make further progress on the work to make having only two primaries a reality. “We’re just patiently waiting for them to do something so we can get started on our election preparations,” said Brechko.
Along with striving for one less primary, Daines explained the Board of Elections also wants to know when exactly they can prepare for upcoming elections. She said new district lines being set means the county could finally get a better sense of the election calendar year. “Everything we (Yates Board of Elections) do revolves around a calendar,” spoke Daines. “When you don’t have one in place, it’s difficult to operate.”