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There are over eleven million active and inactive registered voters in New York State. The majority (5,262,004) consider themselves to be active Democrats. However, more than three million New York voters belong to smaller parties (Republican, Independence, Green, Communist and Conservative Party) or, are unaffiliated.

Since the Republican Party debates began this past week, the DNC has been under increased pressure from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley to announce its own debate schedule. Sanders, who has been drawing record crowds throughout the country (9000 in Portland, ME, 11,000 in Phoenix, 8000 in Dallas, and 10,000 in Madison, WI) has been calling for the debates since May. He even suggested that Democratic candidates should debate Republicans and other Democrats on a regular basis to increase interest in the political process. Within days of Sanders calling for inter-party debates, the Democratic National Committee passed a rule which says any Democrat who debates outside of a sanctioned DNC debate will be forbidden from participating in any official DNC debate.

This past week, the Democratic National Committee finally announced it would have a total of six debates beginning October 13th, 2015. This presents a huge obstacle to the three million plus New York voters who might watch the Democratic debates to educate themselves about the choice of candidates. The last day New Yorkers enrolled in another party can change their registration to Democrat in order to vote in the 2016 NY Democratic primary is October 9, 2015. Four days before the first debate. This means if non-Democrats like a Democrat in the debate, it will be too late for them to re-register to vote for that person in the April primary.
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Whether this scheduling is an oversight by the DNC or an attempt to protect Hillary Clinton from a challenge by Bernie Sanders remains to be seen. The upshot in either case is a disservice to New York voters.

Charlotte Scot
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DNC /Press Secretary/Director of Communications (Carter Administration)


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