Challenge to New York Onondaga County’s Even Year Election Law

Onondaga County (Credits:

Onondaga County, its legislature, and County Executive J. Ryan McMahon have filed a legal challenge against New York State, Governor Kathy Hochul, and local election officials over the newly enacted Even Year Election Law.

This law, signed by Governor Hochul in December 2023, mandates that specific local elections in New York occur during even-numbered years. The county argues that this directive infringes on Article IX of the New York State Constitution, which traditionally grants local governments the power to decide the timing of elections for local offices.

Onondaga County (Credits: Spectrum News)

The lawsuit further contends that the New York Legislature overstepped its bounds under the same constitutional article. The contention is that the Even Year Election Law neither qualifies as a “general” law, which would uniformly apply to all counties, nor a “special” law requiring local consent or a two-thirds legislative majority plus a necessity certificate from the governor.

Onondaga County claims that the law targets only specific counties without adhering to the process needed for a particular law. The lawsuit highlights a safeguard within Article IX to protect local statutes established before 1963. Onondaga County’s charter, enacted in 1961, schedules local general elections for odd-numbered years.

NY to block even-year election mandate (Credits:

Therefore, the plaintiffs are seeking judicial intervention to prevent the application of the Even Year Election Law to Onondaga County and maintain the tradition of holding local elections in odd-numbered years as per the existing county charter.

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