Call Assemblymember Robert Carroll (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Ditmas Park) the king of voter reform measures.
That after Carroll introduced legislation this week to lower the party enrollment change deadline to 60 days if a voter is switching parties and to 25 days if a voter is changing from a registered Blank (independent) for all primary, special and general elections.
Carroll’s bill mirrors the amendment that was passed unanimously by the New York State Democratic Committee, also earlier this week to amend its rules to allow for voters registered in other parties or as blanks to change their enrollment for the 2020 Presidential Primary.
If passed, Carroll’s bill would apply to all parties and all elections, not just the 2020 Presidential Primary.
“I applaud the New York State Democratic Committee for passing this amendment so that many more voters can participate in the 2020 Presidential Primary, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t just need a party rules change, we need the law to be changed across the board for all parties and all elections,” said Carroll.
Carroll calls New York’s party enrollment laws the most onerous in the country. It can sometimes take as long as 11 months for a registered voter to switch parties.
“We are systematically disenfranchising almost 30 percent of the electorate every time we hold a primary election. There are 3 million voters who are not registered in a party in New York State and can therefore not participate in either major party’s primary election, which are often the deciding contest in New York.” Carroll said.
Carroll explained that under current state voting registration requirements, there are two times to change party or non-party affiliations to vote – one for presidential primaries and one for all other elections.
Currently, for a person to vote in non-presidential primaries including federal, city and state primaries To vote in the presidential primaries, they must register their party affiliation no later than 25 days before the general election – held in November.
So this means that if they don’t register by that deadline, voters cannot vote in the next primary, usually held in June or September of the next year – thus disenfranchising a large swath of voters.
Making the voter registration laws uniform and easier to change party affiliation will bring more people to the ballot box, Carroll contends.
Ultimately, Carroll would like to see state laws changed so that one can change their party affiliation to 10 days before the primaries.
New York’s primary turnout is consistently among the lowest in the nation in large part due to its stringent party enrollment laws.
“If the legislature does not act, New York would be the only state in the union to have different party enrollment requirements for different elections. Making New York’s already confusing and restrictive enrollments laws even more byzantine. The Legislature must act and adopt the State Committee’s amendment before the end of this legislative session,” Carroll said.
Twenty-two states hold open presidential primaries. New York is not among them.