What Time Will The New York Primary End? Independent Voters Could Lead To Chaos

For the first time in decades, the New York primary could help decide the outcome of the election. By this time in most election seasons the preferred candidate would be on easy street in a relaxed stroll to clinch the nomination — at least in one party. Not this year. Excitement continues to build, including in New York, where hometown candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been stressing their ties in hopes to win over voters. Whether this has worked or not will be clear at 9 p.m. Tuesday, the time when the New York primary ends.

Polls will close at 9 p.m. ET across the state — later than we've seen in some early races — but counting the votes could take a little longer. What time results come out will depend on how close the race is. Currently Trump and Clinton hold double-digit leads over their respective competitors, Kasich and Cruz on the GOP ticket and Sanders for the Dems.

If these leads hold up, the Associated Press and other news organizations may combine early counts with exit polls to call the winner a bit earlier on. If the polls are wrong and the vote is close in either race, there's no telling how long it could take. Results from the Missouri primaries were so close that the outcome was just decided last week. Polls tend to be pretty good, but just look at Michigan.

There could be a problem that could cause lines and confusions at some polling places — despite the early start, 6 a.m., in the most heavily populated parts of the state including New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Erie (the rest of the state's polling places open at 12 noon). The confusion could stem from independent voters: many Sanders fans may head to the polls and then not be able to vote.

That's because only registered Republicans and Democrats are eligible to vote in the state's closed primary. Sanders fans who are registered independents may not have realized the registration deadline was as long ago as Oct. 9 — way before most people were prepping themselves to go vote. John Conklin, a spokesman for the state Board of Elections, said it could be a mess:

I'm going to predict that a lot of Sanders people who come from the ranks of independent voters are not actually registered Democrats and they will cause lines and waits at the poll sites while they attempt to vote affidavit ballots or obtain court orders to vote.

That could slow down voting for everyone else. Judges, the NYPD, and poll workers are all on alert for chaos. They have printed and distributed extra affidavit ballots too, just in case.

These rules have vexed even famous voters, including the very children of candidates. Two of Trump's own children didn't re-register as Republicans in time and won't be able to vote for their father in the New York primary. Trump's hope is that there will be enough New Yorkers to make up for it.

For our sake, maybe there won't.