Leap Day Special: What are the Requirements for a Special Election to Fill a Vacancy in a Citywide Office?

February 28, 2012

Tomorrow marks the sixth leap day since the signing of the New York City Campaign Finance Act into law on February 29, 1988.  In honor of that anniversary, we take a leap into the unknown by imagining a hypothetical vacancy in a New York City-wide office – that is mayor, comptroller, or public advocate.  Indeed, since the advent of nonpartisan special elections to fill vacancies and public campaign financing a quarter century ago, we have yet to witness a special election to fill a Citywide vacancy.

Here’s a summary of the basic rules.

Special Election:  The mayor (or acting mayor) must proclaim the date of the special election within three days after the vacancy occurs.  The election would then be held on the first Tuesday at least 45 days after the vacancy occurred, unless the mayor determined to adjust the date within a narrow window to facilitate maximum voter participation.  For example, if a vacancy were to occur on Friday March 2, the first Tuesday at least 45 days after would be April 17.  In this instance, the mayor would likely move the election to the following Tuesday, April 24, in order to coincide with the scheduled presidential primary.

Contribution limit: $2,475 per contributor.

Spending Limit for Public Finance Participants: $4,018,000 (comptroller, public advocate); $6,426,000 (mayor).

Public Funding Maximum: $2,209,900 (comptroller, public advocate); $3,534,300 (mayor).

Matchable contribution: $87 per contributor is matched with $522 in public funds (6:1 rate).

Fundraising Threshold to Qualify for Public Funding: $125,000 in matchable contributions , a minimum of 1,437 contributors (comptroller and public advocate); $250,000 in matchable contributions, a minimum of 2,874 contributors (mayor).

Deadline for Opting-In to Public Financing: 7 days after the proclamation of the special election.

If a vacancy occurs early enough this year, the winner of the special election would serve on an interim basis.  A primary and general election would be held later this year to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term of office (through December 31, 2013).



Tag: New York City