A polling place is well marked at North Lynbrook Middle...

A polling place is well marked at North Lynbrook Middle School on an election day (Nov. 2, 2010) Credit: Craig Ruttle

If New York had three primary elections this year, as some propose, plus a general election, it would be too costly and off-putting for voters. The answer is simple: One primary on April 24 to choose presidential convention delegates and one on June 26 for federal, state and local offices. Period.

New York's annual primary, formerly in June, moved to September in 1974. Now a federal judge has ruled that the primary for federal offices must go back to June, because with a September date, the state cannot comply with a federal law designed to help military and other absentee voters. But some in the State Senate want to keep the state and local primary in September.

And why is that?

A June primary would happen during the legislative session. That might introduce politics into legislative deliberations -- what a concept! -- or make it tough for incumbents to fight off primary opponents and still do the people's business. Those concerns are, at best, specious.

The issue is cost. Whatever boards of election must spend on an extra primary is money they can't spend to educate voters and train election workers. This is the first time New York will use optical scanner voting machines in a presidential election. High turnout and unfamiliarity with scanners could be a problem if we waste money in September and don't get everyone ready for November. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) proposes an April-and-June-only bill. The Senate should follow suit.

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