3 days left to change party before Aug. 23 primaries

Judge issues last-minute blackout period, closing pary affiliation ‘loophole’

If you want to change your political party affiliation before the Aug. 23 primary, you only have three days left — a judge recently closed a “loophole” by introducing a last-minute blackout period for party registration change for the unconventionally-timed primary.

Franklin County bipartisan election commissioners Tracy Sparks and Brandon John Varin said the court order setting this blackout came in last Thursday and set the deadline to receive party registration change paperwork on Aug. 11, one week after the order was announced.

Sparks and Varin said this blackout period typically lasts from Feb. 15 until seven days after the primary, which is usually held in June.

New York has had a strange primary election season this year, as its once-in-a-decade redistricting process has been steeped in controversy, partisanship and court battles.

Some maps state Democrats drew up, which favored their party in how districts were shaped, were deemed unconstitutionally created by the state’s top court. The maps were thrown out, and to give enough time for a court-appointed expert to draw up new maps, statewide primary elections for state senate Senate and U.S. Congress were moved from June to August.

New York holds closed primaries, meaning voters need to be registered in a political party to vote in its primary elections. These blackout periods, according to the Steuben County Supreme Court judge who issued this decision, are meant to prevent primary “raiding,” when people change their political affiliation to influence the outcome of an opposing party’s primary.

Justice Patrick McAllister initially set the new August primary date without a blackout period, but is now introducing a blackout at the request of the state Board of Elections. The state BOE had wanted him to set this blackout period back when he split up the primary elections in May, but McAllister did not act on this request until last week, one day after the BOE requested he do so in a letter.

Primaries for the gubernatorial and state Assembly races were held back in June at the regularly scheduled time because the Assembly maps were approved them, despite McAllister deeming them unconstitutionally created, too.

Party affiliation changes filed after Aug. 11 won’t go into effect until Aug. 30, after the primary, but in time for the Nov. 8 general election.

Primary voting info

This deadline to change party affiliation comes two days before early voting begins on Saturday.

Early voting for the primary begins Aug. 13. Franklin County has one early voting polling site – the BOE office in the Franklin County Court House, 355 West Main St. in Malone.

This site will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 13, 14, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 21. This site will be open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 16 and 18.

Today is the last day to apply by mail for an absentee ballot for the primary. Aug. 22 is the last day to deliver an absentee ballot application or apply in person for an absentee ballot at the county Board of Elections office in Malone. Aug. 23, the day of the primary, is the last day for absentee ballots to reach the BOE, and ballots sent by mail must reach the office by Aug. 30 and be postmarked no later than the day of the primary.

General election info

Voters will head to the polls on Election Day, Nov. 8. Polls on that day will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Voters will vote for a governor, lieutenant governor, state attorney general, state comptroller, state senator, state assembly member, congressperson, U.S. Senator and Franklin County legislators, among other local elections.

Early voting stations will also be open at the Franklin County Courthouse — 355 West Main St., Suite 161, Malone — from Oct. 29 to Nov. 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 1 and 3, the offices will be open from 12 to 8 p.m.

The last day to apply for registration to vote in this election is Oct. 14 and applications by mail must be received by Oct. 19.

The last day to change a voter address is Oct. 19.

The last day to mail an absentee ballot application is Oct. 24. The last day to deliver an absentee ballot application in person at the county offices in Malone is Nov. 7.

Absentee ballots for the Nov. 8 election must reach the county Board of Elections by close of the polls on Election Day or be postmarked no later than the day of the election and received by Nov. 15.


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