Voting deadlines approaching Friday

Published Oct 11, 2018 at 11:52am

Friday is the deadline to register to have a chance to have a say in who represents you in Congress and the New York Legislature — both on Election Day Nov. 6 and in party primaries next year.

New York election law sets the deadline for general-election eligibility as Oct. 12 this year. Register after that, and you can’t vote this year.

Friday is also the deadline for voters already registered to change parties or enroll in one for any primaries in 2019. Party affiliation in a given year is determined by a voter’s party status at the registration deadline before the previous general election. The early deadlines were intended to guard against party raiding and fraud, where voters from one party might switch to another to sway its primary outcome.

Newly registered voters can pick a party and be eligible in a primary or general election as long as they register at least 25 days before the election.

The Democratic and Republican and most minor parties require voters to be members in order to vote, unlike open primaries held in many states. The small Reform Party did allow non-members to vote in its attorney general primary in September.

Voters can check their registration information online at voterlookup.elections.ny.gov.

“Every New Yorker -- no matter how confident -- should confirm your voter registration status before Friday’s deadline,” Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY, said in a statement sent Tuesday. “In the past month, we’ve collected a variety of complaints from voters, but the most concerning come from people who’d voted as recently as June and then could not vote in September.

“New York voters: don’t take your registration for granted -- check today before it’s too late.”

Mail applications must be postmarked no later than Friday and received by a board of elections no later than October 17 to be eligible to vote in the general election.

Anyone honorably discharged from the military or who has become a naturalized citizen after Saturday may may register in person at the local Board of Elections until Oct. 27.

Information on voting is at www.elections.ny.gov/VotingRegister.html.

The Oneida County Board of Elections is at 321 Main Street Utica, in Union Station; more information is at (315) 798-5765, or via e-mail at boardofelections@ocgov.net.  

Common Cause was contacted by 125 state residents who had trouble voting in the Sept. 13 primaries for state and local offices. Troubles included an unauthorized change in party affiliation from the Democratic Party to the Reform Party or to unaffiliated status. Common Cause investigated and found that 338 Democrats who had voted in at least three consecutive previous primaries — referred to as “super-prime Democrats” — appeared to have had their party affiliations changed since the June primary for federal offices.

Some of the confusion resulted from voters and sometimes pollworkers not understanding the rules for primaries, according to Lerner.  Some people think they are registered in a party but end up not being registered in that party, like Working Families Party members who think that they should be able to vote in the Democratic primary.

The early deadline for changing party affiliation is among reasons Common Cause and other groups formed the let NY Vote coalition, formerly known as Easy Elections NY, to advocate for reforming New York election laws. Their package of reforms includes allowing early voting in person at satellite locations, automatic registration at any state agency, pre-enrollement for 16- and 17-year-olds who then are eligible when they turn 18, and allowing parolees to vote. The Let NY Vote coalition lists its members and the changes it seeks at its website, letnyvote.org.