In most states, that have a closed primary, the deadline to switch political parties is the same as it is to register to vote. However, some states require people to switch political parties 3 months before the primary; New York and New Hampshire are both like that, there are a few others but NY and NH are the most important right now because they have early primaries. This posting is about New York.
Looking at New York’s Board of Elections Voting page they really aren’t clear on this deadline. They have a 2007 political calendar but it is very confusing so I will go through the law here to explain how they get their crazy deadline.
This all comes from New York’s 2007 Election Law. The part relevant to us is Section 5-304. Enrollment; change of enrollment or new enrollment by previously registered voters.
First we need to get some terminology correct: “2. The term ‘change of enrollment’ shall apply to applications by a registered voter already enrolled in one party to enroll in a different party, or to delete his enrollment in any party, or an application by a registered voter not enrolled in any party to enroll in a particular party.” Basically this covers people who are registered with one political party, but want to switch to a new one, like a Democrat who wants become a Republican so they can vote in the primary. This also covers people who aren’t registered with ANY political party because in New York, you have the option of not enrolling in any party.
Now that we’ve figured out who this applies to, we can look at how they came up with this screwy date. This part is confusing so we’ll take it bit by bit.
“3. A change of enrollment received by the board of elections not later than the twenty-fifth day before the general election… – This covers any enrollment or change of party they receive 25 days before the general election. When they get it, it “…shall be deposited in a sealed enrollment box, which shall not be opened until the first Tuesday following such general election. Such change of enrollment shall be then removed and entered as provided in this article.” So any party enrollment or change of party form they get, up to 25 days before the general election, is put in a sealed box, that is opened the first Tuesday following general election when they process all of them. If you sent in a form 45 days ago it is put in there and waits until the date they open the box, same goes for if you sent a form in 258 days ago, it will sit around for months until they open their box.
Now you’re probably wondering what this general election is they keep referring to. The important part is that we know it is on November 6th, 2007, so twenty five days before that is our date October 12th, 2007. If you’re wondering what is going to be on the ballot and why you haven’t heard anything about this coming election, you’re not alone. I spent at least an hour trying to figure out what was going to be on this general election ballot only to find it is for people with little or no contest: some district attorneys, some city council members, judges, etc.
The way New York picks their deadline is absolutely absurd. The only time your party matters is in a primary, not a general election. Logic would dictate you should make a deadline based on the date of the primary for that year. By making the deadline using the date of the general election, they expect people to switch political parties 3 months before a primary this year! Most people expect the deadline to be something like a month ahead of time, by the time they actually check, it is too late! This will hurt Ron Paul because he has a lot of grass roots support, and it is growing. New Yorkers who don’t hear about this deadline will miss out on the opportunity to vote for Ron Paul in the primary. New Yorkers who discover Ron Paul in the months of October, November, and December, will be unable to show their support in the Republican primary thanks to New York’s ridiculous laws.
Registered Democrats in New York: You need to switch parties by October 12 so you can vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary.
Registered Republicans in New York: You don’t have to do anything, you can vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary. You might want to double check you are a registered Republican though.
People not enrolled in any political party in New York: You need to switch parties by October 12 so you can vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary.
Other: There are smaller political parties in New York as well: Working Family Party, Conservative Party, Independence Party. You too need to switch parties by October 12 so you can vote for Ron Paul in the Republican primary.
How do you change political parties? Just use this PDF and make sure it gets to the elections before October 12th. It has to be in their hands by October 12th, not just postmarked so either mail it a few days before or hand deliver it.
Here is an email exchange the person from WinWin08 had with them. For those wondering, WinWin08 and I independently created sites for similar reasons with the same information and have combined our efforts to produce one very nice information packed table to get Ron Paul the Republican nomination.
Date: Sep 28, 2007 12:52 PM
Subject: Deadline for changing party affiliation?
Hello, can you confirm how much advance notice is required for a registered voter in New York to change their party affiliation? Specifically, if a New York state resident wants to participate in the upcoming presidential primary election as a Republican, and is currently a registered Democrat, what is the last day for them to change their party affiliation for that election? I have heard suggestions that the deadline is October 12, but I can’t find any official information indicating that date.
Thank you very much for your time, and any response!
Date: Sep 28, 2007 1:29 PM
Subject: Re: Deadline for changing party affiliation?
That date is correct. Click on “Voting” on this site for details.
That date is the last day to register to be eligible to vote in the 11/6/07 election. Since election law requires that a general election occur before a change of enrollment takes effect, one has to meet that deadline or wait for the next general on 11/4/08.
The county board holds that change for one week after the general and then notifies you of the new party enrollment.(Election Law, 5-304).
New York State Board of Elections
40 Steuben Street
Albany, New York 12207-1208