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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Vote for ex-Skelos seat could force a special process

"If the governor orders it, we'll get it

"If the governor orders it, we'll get it done," David Gugerty, Nassau's Democratic elections commissioner, said of April 19 special elections. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

The prospect of holding special elections April 19 to fill the seats of convicted ex-Assemb. Sheldon Silver and convicted ex-Sen. Dean Skelos forces its own logistical challenges.

The race to succeed Skelos in the 9th Senate District offers the first taste of an election year in which his former Republican colleagues fight to stay in power after the stunning downfall of their majority leader from Rockville Centre.

“If the governor orders it, we’ll get it done,” Nassau’s Democratic elections commissioner, David Gugerty, said Friday of April 19.

Other officials say the practical problems could result because it is also presidential primary day throughout New York State.

That means voters must be restricted to cast primary ballots only in the party in which they are registered.

At the same time, all voters must be allowed to cast ballots in the their districts’ special elections regardless of how they are enrolled.

Handling the separate ballots together means adjustments in how computer software and machinery are set up and how polling sites are configured and assigned.

Another concern is assuring the availability of enough machines and devices required for disabled voters.

But specials have been held before on primary days. Last month Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, whose choice it is to schedule specials, talked up April 19, but has yet to order it.

“I believe that’s within the legal deadlines and that’s the date that we’re looking at,” Cuomo said. “That’s the presidential primary, so you wouldn’t have the extra expense. People are going to be voting anyway, so why not get those elections done at the same time?”

The New York City Board of Elections would administer the one in Silver’s former 65th Assembly District in lower Manhattan and another in Staten Island’s 62nd Assembly District.

Michael Ryan, the city board’s executive director, told NY1 News: “The concerns with marrying a primary to a special election is that the special election behaves more like a general election.

“So in terms of machine setup, for every push, there is a pull.”

The mechanics of it aside, party operatives have been trying to guess how holding the contests together might affect local turnout.

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