On December 5, 2013, the Commission approved a final interpretive rule to clarify that, for purposes of the FECA, the date of a special primary election under New York state law is the date on which the political party committee votes to nominate the party’s candidate for the special election, and not the date on which the certification of that vote is filed.
The final interpretive rule was published in the Federal Register at 78 Fed. Reg. 76032 on December 16, 2013 and took effect the same day.
Sections 6-114 and 6-116 of New York state election law vest special election nominating authority in the party committees, either directly or by operation of state party rules. Under these provisions, therefore, candidates are placed on the general election ballot "in accordance with applicable state law" as "a direct result" of the relevant party committee vote. Based on these New York state laws and party rules summarized in a draft rule posted for public comment on November 22, candidates in New York are placed on the general election ballot "in accordance with applicable state law" as "a direct result" of a vote held by each political party’s county committee (or state committee in the case of a Senate special election) to select the party’s candidate. See 11 CFR 100.2(c)(1). Accordingly, the party committee vote in these situations is a "primary election" within the meaning of the Act and Commission regulations. See Advisory Opinions (AOs) 2004-20 (Farrell for Congress) and 1992-25 (Owens for Senate Committee). Although the party’s subsequent filing of a certification after a party vote formalizes the nomination, such a filing is not the primary election itself. See FEC v. Citizens for Senator Wofford, No. 1:CV-94-2057, slip op. at 8-10 (M.D. Pa. Sept. 27, 1995). The Commission received no comments on the draft rule, which has now been adopted in final form.
To the extent that other states'' nominating procedures for special elections are materially indistinguishable from those of New York, the Commission anticipates that this interpretation would apply to such other states as well.