One of the interesting things about this primary season is learning just how byzantine our party primaries are. I’ve posted twice now on the New York primary, relying upon the New York Board of Elections website as a source. That site sets a deadline of March 25 for voter registration. I had assumed (the old military expression of “when you assume you make an ‘ass’ of ‘you’ (u, get it?) and ‘me’ really applies) that applied to change of registration. My colleague, Moe Lane, pointed out, gently, that was balderdash.
Via Think Progress:
Devin Cannon’s voter registration has been marked “independent” for as long as she can remember. This means she’s never been allowed to vote in a major party presidential primary election in New York, which operates on a closed primary system.
But this year, she wanted to change.
“I truly did not feel that I belonged in either party,” she told ThinkProgress via email. “And suddenly Bernie Sanders came along.”
I hung up feeling completely defeated and confused and honestly just started crying.
Cannon knew she had to switch her party affiliation to Democrat if she wanted to vote for Sanders, the independent U.S. senator from Vermont who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. She also knew that she had to change her party by October 9, 2015 — more than six months before the election happened. New York’s October deadline is the earliest change-of-party deadline in America.
Not wanting to miss her chance, Cannon said she mailed a change-of-party form to the Monroe County Board of Elections in August. But when she checked on the status of her registration last month, she was told her form wasn’t received until late October. She would be ineligible to vote for Sanders in the spring.
The March 25 date only applies to NEW voters. If you had previously registered to vote in New York and wanted to change your party then October 9 was your deadline.
This is a significant issue in New York:
More than 3 million people — about 27 percent of the state’s voters — were registered outside the Republican and Democratic parties as of April.
Now the sweet part:
Bad News For Sanders, Trump
When it comes to New York’s fast-approaching presidential primary election, Lerner said potential voters from both parties would likely be impacted by New York’s strict election rules. But she said that people voting for “the two non-establishment candidates” — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and billionaire Donald Trump — would bear the brunt of the confusion. That’s because voters for those candidates were more likely to have been previously unaffiliated with a political party, or more likely to have wanted to switch parties to vote for their preferred candidate.
Sanders supporters even set up a page back in October raising the alarm about the change-of-party deadline for independents and voters registered with more liberal factions like the Green Party or the Liberal Party.
So far, it seems true that non-establishment candidates like Trump and Sanders tend to do better in open primaries, where people can vote in whichever party’s primary they choose.
In the current Republican battle between Trump and Sen. Tex Cruz (R-TX), Trump has done better in open primary contests while Cruz has done better in closed contests, according to a Fox News analysis. And the New York Times reported that Sanders’ statewide victories have been “fueled by his large vote margins among independents,” who may be restricted from voting in closed primaries.
What do you think the odds were of the Trump campaign notifying potential voters before October 9 that they had to change party. Not very great. Trump didn’t stand up a New York campaign operation until yesterday.
Today Donald J. Trump announced his New York State campaign organization, including Republican Party leaders in all 27 Congressional District across the state. The committee – comprised of GOP elected leaders, Republican county chairmen and other key party officials – represents the most powerful presidential campaign organization in the state.
This maladministration and disarray is how the Trump campaign operates.
Short version: if you’re a new NY voter, the GOP registration deadline was last month. If you’re DEM/third-party? Deadline was last October.
— Moe Lane (@moelane) April 7, 2016
As Think Progress points out, Trump does better in states with loose voter registration laws. Just as his campaign is unable to plan and anticipate, so, too, his voters suffer from the same shortcoming. It is unlikely that large numbers of previously unregistered adults paid enough attention to the March 25 deadline to make a difference. Previously registered voters, which is nearly the universe of voting age adults since motor-voter became law, who, like Sean Hannity, registered as Conservative or Independence to show The Man they meant business, will mostly be unable to participate.