Register to vote this week
You can’t vote if you aren’t registered, and Friday is New York’s registration deadline for the Nov. 6 election.
If you recently turned 18 or became a U.S. citizen, or just never registered, you need to register so you can weigh in on local, state and federal government. If you have moved since the last time you voted, your registration needs to be updated.
If you aren’t registered in New York but want to vote Nov. 6, your form must be postmarked by Friday and received by mail at your county Board of Elections office by Wednesday — or completed in person at your county Board of Elections office by Friday.
If you are honorably discharged from the U.S. military or become a naturalized U.S. citizen shortly after this Saturday, you get an extra two weeks; you may register in person at your Board of Elections up until Saturday, Oct. 27.
If you’ve moved, you must submit a registration update form postmarked by Friday and received by Wednesday, or completed in person at your county Board of Elections office by Wednesday.
Friday is also the firm deadline to change your party affiliation for next year. New York has this ridiculous rule that says if you want to change your party, you have to do it by October for the NEXT year’s primaries. New York has closed primaries, which means only enrolled party members can vote to choose that party’s candidates for the general election.
It’s also a repressive rule; by making it a hassle to register with the party in which you want to vote, it keeps primary voter turnout low. Changing this is one of several voting reforms we urge New York to adopt, including automatic voter registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
To check whether you are registered and, if so, what address and party you’re registered under, go to www.elections.ny.gov, click the button in the middle that says “Want to find out if you are registered and where you vote?” and follow the instructions.
One can register many different ways, but basically it comes down to getting your hands on the right form, filling it out and submitting it to your county board of elections.
You can download a form from www.elections.ny.gov or pick one up at any county board of elections office or a wide range of other public offices, such as town halls or libraries.
Then fill out the form and mail it to one of the following, depending on which county you live in:
¯ Franklin County Board of Elections, 355 West Main St., Malone, NY 12953
¯ Essex County Board of Elections, 7551 Court St., P.O. Box 217, Elizabethtown, NY 12932.
If you submit it in person, know that the Franklin County office in Malone closes at 4 p.m. and the Essex County office in Elizabethtown closes at 4:30.
You can also register to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles, which will forward your application to your county board of elections. You can do this in person at the DMV office in Saranac Lake’s Harrietstown Town Hall, 39 Main St., or at https://dmv.ny.gov.
For more information, call the state Board of Elections at 1-800-FOR-VOTE or your county board of elections: In Franklin County, 518-481-1663 (Republican) or 518-481-1664 (Democratic); in Essex County, 518-873-3475 (Democratic) or 518-873-3478 or (Republican).
Voting is a duty and a privilege, yet too few citizens do it. New York in particular has consistently, over recent decades, been among the states with the lowest voter turnout, according to the Poynter Institute’s PolitiFact. This June’s primary saw just 24 percent of New York’s registered Democrats vote — yet that was more than double the pathetic 10 percent turnout in the 2014 primary.
New York’s antiquated voting rules are to blame for much of that, but still, there’s plenty of room for the public to step up and increase turnout on their own.
Please register, and vote.
Can you vote?
To qualify to register to vote, you must:
¯ be a United States citizen
¯ be 18 years old by Dec. 31 of the year in which you file this form (Note: You must also be 18 years old by the date of the election in which you want to vote)
¯ live at your present address at least 30 days before an election
¯ not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction
¯ not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court
¯ not claim the right to vote elsewhere.