Republicans in the Dutchess County Legislature want to sue New York State to block a new election law that consolidates most elections to even-numbered years to save money and increase voter participation. And they want taxpayers to pay for it.

An April resolution put forward by local Republicans who claim that New York has overstepped its authority would allocate $100,000 from the general fund and authorize Dutchess to initiate legal action.

The bill moving most elections to even-numbered years, S.3505B/A.4282, was signed into law by NY Governor Kathy Hochul in December. It moves all non-constitutional offices to even-numbered years after a transition term. An amendment to the state constitution will soon be proposed to move the remaining elections set in the NY Constitution, such as district attorneys and county clerks, a change requiring voter approval.

“Syncing town and county elections is a win-win proposition, which is why a Siena College survey found wide support for the move among all parties and demographics,” said the bill’s sponsor, New York State Senator James Skoufis. “It will more than double turnout in local races and save taxpayer dollars.”

Elections in even-numbered years, such as 2022 and 2024, have significantly higher turnouts than those in odd-numbered years due to Presidential and Congressional elections. Supporters of the bill say that when elections are held in odd-numbered years, the cost of participating in the democratic process increases, particularly for voters who may have difficulty arranging time off work and traveling to their polling site.

“Every eligible New Yorker deserves the right to participate in the democratic process without unnecessary barriers,” said Hochul. “This is a meaningful first step, and I would support a constitutional amendment to align all election years, save taxpayer dollars, and avoid voter fatigue.”

In a press release, local Republican legislators said they opposed the change.

“I made it clear the day I became chairman that we would fight this unconstitutional power grab with any available measure,” said Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Will Truitt (R-Hyde Park).

Michael Treybich, a lawyer in Poughkeepsie with extensive election law experience, believes the lawsuit may be politically motivated.

“The New York Constitution gives the state legislature nearly unfettered authority to regulate elections generally,” Treybich told the Observer. “It looks like the Dutchess County Legislature Republican majority are going to spend taxpayer money to fight a law they disagree with, only because they think it takes away an edge they have in local elections. Shame.”

This resolution must first be approved by the Dutchess County Legislature’s Government Services & Administration Committee at its April 4 meeting. If approved, it will be sent to the entire legislature for consideration on April 8.


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