Officials in New York are warily eyeing the approaching dates on the political calendar as a legal challenge to the newly drawn legislative maps is coming to a head this week in the state's top court.
If the state Court of Appeals decides to leave the maps as they are, no changes to the coming June primary will be needed. But Gov. Kathy Hochul and Democratic lawmakers are not ruling out altering the primary voting dates if the redistricting process is thrown back to a special commission or the Legislature itself.
"It could have an impact on the timing of elections," Hochul told reporters on Tuesday.
At issue is the potential for the seven-judge court to reject the district maps for the House of Representatives as well as the state Senate and Assembly, which were drawn and approved by the Democratic-led Legislature earlier this year.
The primary vote is scheduled for June 28, with early voting beginning June 18. Certification of the primary ballot by state elections officials is planned for May 4, a week from Wednesday.
Petitioning for ballot access in the new districts has been underway, a process that has coincided with a Republican-backed challenge to the maps that claims the process led to gerrymandered districts that favor Democratic candidates and incumbents.
And with the party primaries now set for June after lawmakers several years ago moved up state and federal primaries to comply with a law governing access to military ballots, the time frame is a far shorter one than lawmakers have had in recent years.
"Time is of the essence, the clock is ticking on what is now an established date of June 28," Hochul said. "We're going to ... find out what our options are depending on how that unfolds."
Democratic officials have maintained the maps were drawn fairly and are the result of the state's party enrollment being dominated by Democratic voters.
Changing primary election dates are not unheard of; when the contests were held in September, lawmakers would change the primary date if it were to fall on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
But the outcome of the redistricting challenge could add a dose of confusion for voters and some uncertainty for legislators in the final weeks of the legislative session in Albany.
"Obviously we are hoping we will prevail in court," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "Whatever the outcome is, hopefully it will be favorable to us and we won't have to do anything. If it is not, we'll take a look at how we'll proceed."