Summer can often be a quiet period for New York politics. That won’t be the case in 2022.
Between scheduled elections, a confusing ongoing legal battle over redistricting and congressional vacancies, there will be many consequential political contests filling the summer months.
The latest wrench thrown was U.S. Rep. Tom Reed’s sudden resignation from Congress on Tuesday. The Republican lawmaker already wasn’t planning to run for re-election in the Southern Tier House seat, but he left early to join a government relations and public affairs firm in Washington, D.C.
His sudden exit triggers a special election for his seat, thanks to a state law enacted in 2021 that says the governor needs to issue a proclamation calling for a special election within 10 days of a House member’s departure if it comes before July 1 in an election year, and it must be held 70 to 80 days after that, said state Board of Elections spokesperson Jennifer Wilson.
Then there’s Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado’s impending departure when he becomes the new lieutenant governor. Neither he nor Gov. Kathy Hochul have announced an official date for his swearing in, but that would also require a special election before November.
Representatives with Gov. Hochul's office would not comment Wednesday on what date the governor will issue the proclamation for those contests.
"We are working with the lieutenant governor-designate's team on the transition and have not yet received Congressman Reed’s resignation, but when we do, the governor will call a special election as required by law," Hochul's Press Secretary Hazel Crampton-Hays said Wednesday.
Delgado and Reed's resignations must be received within a maximum of 10 days of each other for the special election to be scheduled for the same date.
The election date the governor sets will determine the calendar for candidate registration, filing period for independent candidates and application for absentee ballots. Political parties will nominate their candidates, and petitioning is not required.
On top of all that, add in the fact the two special House elections come as the boundaries for those House districts have yet to even be decided. A special master tasked with drawing New York’s new congressional districts must deliver new maps by May 20 after courts rejected maps drawn by Democratic state lawmakers.
That rejection forced primary races for Congress to be pushed back to Aug. 23.
As of Wednesday, a state Supreme Court judge upheld the state Assembly district maps drawn by the Legislature earlier this year, keeping primaries for those seats on June 28. Primaries for governor and lieutenant governor also are slated to remain on that day.
So New York voters face primaries for statewide offices and the state Assembly in June, followed by primaries for Congress and the state Senate in August, mixed in with two special elections for two House seats that cover a large swath of upstate New York.
The general campaign season then will follow the busy summer of elections.
Hochul signed legislation in January that allows voting by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 pandemic through 2022, continuing a law first put in place in 2020, which allows voters to request an absentee ballot to avoid the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 at polling locations. This may also delay results for close races, like seen in some contests in 2020.