Friday is the deadline to register to vote in the upcoming November election, but it is also the last day to change party affiliation before next year’s primary. New York is a closed primary state meaning only registered party members can vote in their party’s primary.
Onondaga County Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said the election code that requires voters change parties now if they want to vote in next year’s primary, has been on the books since around the beginning of the 20th century.
“The law was originally intended to keep party bosses from being able to get all their friends to register in the party and flip an election or flip a primary right before the primary happens," Czarny said. "It’s a very long sequester.”
Czarny said that’s why there were complaints from people who were too late to vote in last year’s presidential primary.
“Especially for people who never vote in primaries, they may not remember when they registered, what their party was when they registered and they think I’m a Democrat, I’m a Republican, I always vote that way," Czarny said. "Unless you register that way, you can’t vote in the primaries.”
Congressional and state representatives will be on the ballot in 2018. New registration or a change in address can be postmarked Friday. Voters can also use their account on the MyDMV website to make any changes but Czarny said the website can be slow, glitchy or even crash on the day of a voter deadline. He recommends voters who want to change their party do so in person at their local Board of Elections office before 5 p.m.