Early voting takes place at The Great Neck House in...

Early voting takes place at The Great Neck House in Great Neck on Nov. 2. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman Friday filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state challenging a new law that moves most local elections to even-numbered years, beginning in 2026.

Most town and county elections in New York will move from odd to even years under a bill that Hochul, a Democrat, signed into law in December. Races for governor, president and Congress are held in even years.

The lawsuit by Blakeman, a Republican, and the GOP-controlled Nassau County Legislature, argues that the state violated its constitution in enacting the new law, and seeks to block it from taking effect.

The lawsuit dovetails with a campaign against the law by Republicans statewide who argue that voters will ignore local issues when county and town elections occur with federal and state contests.

Democrats say local elections should coincide with gubernatorial and presidential contests, when turnout is highest. Democrats historically have better turnout during gubernatorial and, particularly, presidential years.

“By changing the election schedule for certain town and county officials from odd-numbered to even-numbered years, the Even Year Election Law directly conflicts with the Nassau County Charter’s provisions prescribing the terms of office and timing of elections of its county legislators and officials,” according to the Nassau suit.

Hochul's office declined to comment, a spokesman said.

The lawsuit argues the state violated Nassau's “home rule powers” as outlined in the state constitution. For years, Nassau’s charter has dictated when local elections are held, the suit said. 

The state can only make changes to “the property, affairs, or government of a local” municipality by adhering to certain constitutional requirements, none of which took place, the suit says.

Last month, Republican-controlled Onondaga County filed suit challenging the election-year law. On Thursday, the Ways and Means Committee of the GOP-controlled Suffolk County Legislature, approved a resolution authorizing the county attorney to challenge the even-year law.

In March, the Nassau County Legislature approved a $500,000 contract with an outside law firm, Manhattan-based Genova Burns LLC, as it edged closer to filing a lawsuit. The legislature's Rules Committee approved the contract by a 4-3 vote, with all Democratic members voting no.

On Friday, Richard Kessel, chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, a state board that controls county finances, said his agency was reviewing the law firm contract.

“The question is whether the litigation is governmental in nature or political, and that is what we’re looking at,” Kessel said. “… We’ve got a lot of questions whether this is a proper governmental question or not.”

Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove), the legislative minority leader, said in a statement that Democratic legislators “voted against retaining special counsel to pursue this politically motivated action, and we are confident this frivolous litigation will be swiftly thrown out of court.”

The New York State Association of Counties, which opposed the even-year legislation, said it “curtails local home rule authority” and “will result in less attention to local issues at stake in local elections, will not result in taxpayer savings or more efficiency, and was not vetted by local leaders or subject to public hearings. 


 

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