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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/1/15

Why Bernie Sanders May Not Win New York: The Problem With Archaic Election Laws

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Message Michael Blecher
New York
New York
(Image by Glyn Lowe Photoworks.)
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It's Tuesday, September 30th. Joe Biden has yet to announce his candidacy. A large portion of voters have not yet heard of Bernie Sanders. No ballot has yet been cast for the presidential primaries. Nevertheless, October 9th, 2015 is the deadline to change your political party if you wish to vote in the New York Presidential Primaries. Allow me to repeat this fact because you may seem shocked to hear that the deadline to register as a member of a different political party is 193 days before New York's Presidential Primaries will occur. This means that if you are registered as a New York Independent, or as a member of the Green Party, a Republican, etc., you must change your political party before that date to vote in the Democratic Primaries, which doesn't take place till April 19th. This is 4 days before even a Democratic debate has taken place! Even more concerning is how little has been done to inform New Yorkers about this deadline. There is no mention of it in any of the major newspapers. I have not seen any of my local news channels inform the public about this deadline either. In fact, if you Google New York primaries deadline, you will only see local newspapers in places like Albany and Buffalo make even mention of it.

To make matters worse, the website for the New York Board of Elections has made it almost impossible to find out the correct date. Even more confusing is the fact the date to register as a first time voter is months in advance. The deadline for registration for first time voters also appears on the website's 2016 calendar and is easy to find. However, you will not find the deadline to change your party anywhere on that calendar. You will likely assume the date to change parties is probably the same but this is FALSE. The deadline only becomes more ambiguous when the form to change your political party reads that the change of enrollment should be received no later than 25 days before the election you want to participate in.

To register for a political party or change it, you can go to the DMV website and do it online. I urge everyone to go to the DMV website and see for themselves how difficult it is to navigate through this site to find the appropriate link to declare your political party! I researched the deadline that exists in every other state and the good news is that most states do not provide such an abysmal deadline to register. Every vote will matter for Bernie Sanders and New York has made it almost impossible for a less established candidate to compete fairly. We all know that there is a much greater likelihood that Bernie Sanders will bring in voters who were previously registered as Independents, members of the Green Party, etc., but what will it matter if these people are denied their very basic right to vote in a primary simply because they missed a deadline that is unfathomable?

Now for the record, I do not believe this was purposely done but it is a result of the archaic way New York State sets up their elections. Nevertheless, the harm it has caused is irreversible. New York ranked 49th in voter turnout in the 2014 Midterm election. It is time to take a stand and fight back. I urge everyone to do two things after reading this article. First, you should do everything you can to inform as many New Yorkers as possible about the fast approaching deadline. The second thing I urge you to do is to make a ruckus about this deadline until it is extended. Bernie Sanders has spoken about the idea that if we want real change, we the people have to become politically involved before an election and stay politically involved after. I say now is the time to put this idea to the test. I want everyone to call, email and Twitter Andrew Cuomo, demanding that the deadline is greatly extended. Contact the state senators as well! The more people you can find to help us join in this process, the better chance we have in succeeding. And don't forget to get the word out so everyone is registered as a Democrat to vote in the Democratic Primaries!

To contact Andrew Cuomo by email, click on this link:

Also, if you wish to contact him by phone, dial 518-474-8390.

Here is information for several of the more prominent New York State Senators if you wish to contact them as well:

John J. Flanagan

Phone: 518-455-2071

Jeffrey D. Klein

Phone: 518-455-3595


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Michael Blecher was working as a research assistant at several psychology labs before becoming a political activist. He canvassed in six different states for the Bernie Sanders' campaign, and his activism has been covered in The Village Voice (more...)

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