August primary and election explained

Yates County Board of Elections

YATES COUNTY — In an unusual move, the New York State Legislature and Governor have passed a law to hold a special election and a second party primary election Aug. 23. These elections are the final consequences of the new data from the U.S. Census of 2020. It requires the necessary redistricting of the congressional and state representatives' election districts. Several lawsuits challenged first New York State’s redistricting plan, and then also the primary elections for the party candidates running in the newly created and realigned districts.

New York's Congressional Districts as of 2023.

The census determined that New York would lose one member in Congress, so the lines would have to be redrawn and at least one Congress member would be eliminated. In March, the state legislature created a map of districts, which a court later found to be unacceptable gerrymandering that favored the majority party in Albany. Following appeals, the decision to redraw the election district lines was affirmed, and a redistricting expert created the current districts.

This was the redistricting map approved by the state Legislature and Gov. Hochul that was later thrown out by a court as unduly gerrymandered.
New York's Congressional Districts from 2013 to 2022.

In the new approved plan, as of Jan. 1 Yates County will be moved out of the district that included counties along the Southern Tier and into a district that stretches from Niagara County in the west to Jefferson County in the east and runs mostly along the shore of Lake Ontario, excluding Monroe and Orleans counties. Any candidate for Congress in the new 24th Congressional District was required to obtain supporting petitions and if more than one candidate in each party obtained a sufficient number of signatures there would be a special congressional primary election on Aug. 23.

Steven Holden

Democratic Commissioner Bob Brechko reports that only one candidate petitioned; Steven Holden will be on the general election ballot Nov. 8 and not in any primary in August. On the other hand, Republican Commissioner Rob Schwarting reports that there will be an active field of candidates for the Republican line on the general election ballots; they include Claudia Tenney, Mario Fratto, and George K. Phillips. As a consequence, there will only be a Republican primary Aug. 23 at all poll sites across the county.

Claudia Tenney
Mario Fratto
George K. Phillips

The special election will be open to all registered voters, and will also be held on Aug. 23 at all poll sites. This election is necessitated by the early resignation by Congressman Tom Reed from his elected office in the old 23rd Congressional District. The resignation leaves a partial term of November and December 2022, and by law it must be filled by special election. Major parties were asked to nominate a candidate by party caucus in July. The ballot to decide who will serve this partial term will have the Democrat Max Della Pia contesting against Republican Joseph Sempolinski. When this election is finished, Yates County will be done with the old Congressional District 23, and focus its attention to the north and Congressional District 24.

Congressional Democratic primary candidate Max Della Pia
Joseph Sempolinski

According to the Board of Elections, all of those voters who are eligible for an absentee ballot will be receiving a ballot for the Special Election. Only Republican voters eligible for an absentee ballot will be getting the Republican Primary ballot.

In order to vote in these important elections one must have lived in the county at least 30 days and be a U.S. citizen over 18 years of age. Some timing restrictions may apply, so register as soon as possible. Registration forms can be found in town offices, post offices, and libraries, and at the Board of Elections in the County Office Building, 417 Liberty St., Penn Yan.

All voters will be receiving a postal card in early August that will remind them of the Aug. 23 and Nov. 8 elections. The Board encourages anyone with questions to call their office at 315-536-5135, ext. 0.