Common Cause New York Statement on New York’s Closed Shut Primary Election

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  • Susan Lerner
Don't yell at poll workers, call your state legislators!

NEW YORK, NY — Today Common Cause/NY Executive Director, Susan Lerner, issued the following statement:

“New York’s closed-shut primary effectively rewards partisanship and punishes independent minded voters by preventing them from participating fully in the democratic process. But don’t yell at the poll workers. Call your lawmakers in Albany and tell them to fix New York’s system of elections!”

Unlike voters in many states, a New York voter is not allowed to arrive at a polling place, register and vote in a party primary. New York’s closed-shut primary rules mean independents and late registrations are excluded from the primary voting process. In New York, the deadline to change or declare party enrollment for presidential primary was wildly early: October 9, 2015.

Lerner has an op-ed in today’s New York Post explaining the problem and potential solutions (excerpted):

New York is one of only 11 states with closed primaries. Eleven other states have open primaries in which members of either party can vote freely for any candidate regardless of party affiliation.

Twenty-four states have a hybrid system, with some variation between open and closed primaries for handling unaffiliated voters and changing registration. Eleven states plus the District of Columbia have same-day registration, allowing unregistered and unaffiliated voters to show up on Election Day and participate. Similar legislation is withering on the vine in New York.

Simply fixing New York’s retrograde primary rules would be a start, but it isn’t enough. A modern mobile society with a 24-hour news cycle needs one uniform set of rules for registering voters, including same-day registration, that apply equally across the country.

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