Don't Miss the Party (Primaries) in 2016
With the first debates of the 2016 campaign behind us, now is the time for voters to start preparing for New York’s presidential primary on April 19th.
Too soon, you say? Common sense might agree with you, but not state election law. New York voters face an October 9 deadline to be eligible to cast a ballot in party primary elections next year. Any registered voter who currently is not enrolled in a party will not be able to participate in the primary elections next year if they miss this deadline. This applies to voters who leave the political party line blank or indicate that they do not wish to enroll in a party.
Likewise, registered voters who are enrolled in a party but want to change their party enrollment will need to do so by October 9 for the change to take effect in 2016. For instance, voters enrolled in the Working Families or Conservative parties who want to vote for a candidate vying for the Democratic or Republican presidential nomination must change their party enrollment before Friday.
Don’t know your party enrollment status? Check now. Look for the “Political Party” line.
If it seems odd to be required to make this choice so early, it is. According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, New York has the earliest change-of-party deadline among the 11 states with a closed primary system. In fact, New York is the only state in the group where the deadline does not even fall in the same calendar year as the primary.
Why is the deadline so early? New York’s election law requires voters to change their party enrollment prior to the registration deadline for the general election in November in the year preceding a primary election. The deadline also applies to the other party nominating contests that will be held in June and September for Congressional and state legislative offices, respectively.
This provision forces many voters to make a critical choice in how they’ll vote well before many of them have had a chance to tune into the race. Republican candidates have held only two of the 11 debates they have scheduled and the Democratic candidates will debate for the first time on October 13, four days after the deadline.