Schenectady County

Registration deadline today for primary vote

Surely, you don’t want to be left out on “Super Duper Tuesday.”
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Surely, you don’t want to be left out on “Super Duper Tuesday.”

That’s when nearly half the states in the nation will hold primaries or caucuses to choose presidential candidates for one or both of the two largest political parties.

New York joins the pack of 23 states for the primary that is a month earlier than the previous “Super Tuesday” in March 2004.

That also means an earlier deadline — today — to register to vote, if you haven’t already done so.

“There’s obviously the concern that some people will be caught off guard,” said Brian Quail, Schenectady County Democratic elections commissioner, of the early deadline.

To be registered for the primary, you must hand-deliver an application to your county board of elections office or have it postmarked in the mail today.

According to a spokeswoman from the U.S. Postal Service, that means mailing your application from home today or dropping it in the slot at the post office or blue corner mailbox before the last scheduled pickup.

A local elections official suggests would-be voters go one step further by handing the envelope to a postal employee at the post office and asking for a postmark with today’s date.

“A lot of times when it’s dropped in the slots, it has the next day on it,” said Diane Wade, the Republican elections commissioner for Saratoga County. “We don’t want anybody to be left out.”

If you’re already registered but want to change your party affiliation so you can vote for your favorite candidate, you’re out of luck.

Requesting a party change now would change it after the November general election, Wade said.

Party changes must be made by the October registration deadline to take effect by the next year’s primary.

The Saratoga County office has received a lot of requests from people wanting to change their party for the closed primary, in which voters can choose only candidates of their own party.

“They’re either not enrolled in a party or they have a favorite in another party,” Wade said.

Quail said he expects higher voter turnout for this presidential primary because of the earlier date.

“I think people rightly perceive it as more relevant,” Quail said. “In order to affect the outcome, it is important to be earlier.”

Only eight states are holding primaries or caucuses to choose candidates before Feb. 5.

The presidential primary seems to have generated a few more registrations in Schenectady County but no more than usual in Saratoga or Montgomery counties.

“It’s been pretty steady right along, but we haven’t seen a huge influx of registration forms,” said Lyn May, Republican commissioner for the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

In Saratoga County, Wade doesn’t expect to see a rush today, she said.

“We had the splurge for the local election,” she said.

Schenectady County has received applications from 179 new voters since Jan. 1.

“It is modestly larger than what we would normally see,” Quail said.

Those new voters have registered to join the Democratic Party by a 2 to 1 ratio, which is becoming the trend in the formerly Republican county, Quail said.

“A little over 10 years ago, the Republicans were in the majority. It’s been slow and consistent; it has not been a tidal wave,” he said of the Democratic majority.

The county’s 87,000 voters now include 32,000 Democrats and 27,000 Republicans.

Quail said the county — and the state — usually sees a change in party affiliations depending on which party is in power.

“Democrats are on the ascendancy right now, so there has been more gravitation in that direction.”

Registered voters who moved within their county but haven’t changed their address with the Board of Elections can still do so up until the day of the election, Quail said. Or they can report to their new polling place and cast an affidavit ballot.

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