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Glad party-change deadline was moved closer to primary

Friday is Valentine’s Day, but it’s also the deadline to start a relationship with a new political party, perhaps breaking up with your old one in the process.

The primary is April 28, with early voting from April 18-26.

Four years ago, in April 2016, New York’s presidential primary election locked out many voters. They wanted to join a political party and have a say in choosing its candidate — between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, for instance, or between various Republicans including eventual victor Donald Trump — but they discovered that the deadline to change parties had been six months before.

Having that deadline in October didn’t make sense to voters, and thankfully, New York state lawmakers have changed it. Now, if you are already registered to vote but want to change your party affiliation before a presidential primary in April, the deadline is Feb. 14.

Many people prefer to be independent from any party affiliation, which makes a lot of sense to us. But New York has what are called closed primaries, which means only registered members of that party can vote among its candidates. That leaves independents out of some of the biggest decisions in shaping the direction of our nation.

Mind you, the Feb. 14 deadline is for people who are already registered to vote to change parties. People who are not registered to vote in New York have until April 3 to do so. The deadline to update your address or name change is April 8. Download the form from the state Board of Elections website, fill it out, and send it to your county board of election.

Voting is one of your few chances to weigh in on directing the government you pay for and live with. The people who are elected will then go on to make the decisions for you; you won’t get to vote on which one. So it’s critically important that you pick people you think are the best for the job.

You can’t vote if you aren’t registered — and in the primary, you can’t vote if you aren’t registered with a party.

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