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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NEW YORK -- Common Cause/NY has a problem with the way New York State holds its primary election system.

Executive Director, Susan Lerner, said in a statement released Tuesday, "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 cannot register to vote at their polling place on primary election day. That means 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," according to Lerner: Oct. 9, 2015.

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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