Can Independents Vote In The New York Primary? Your Party Registration Matters
Earlier in the week, it was revealed two of Donald Trump's children wouldn't be casting ballots for their father in the New York primary, after failing to switch their registered party affiliation before the state's deadline. It seemed at first an unbelievable oversight. How could two adults so embroiled in a political campaign suddenly find themselves shut out of the voting process? But Ivanka and Eric Trump aren't alone. More than 3 million eligible voters, registered as Independents or members of smaller political parties, won't be able to participate in New York's closed primary on April 19 due to the state's strict voting laws.
Under New York's closed primary system, only voters registered with the party organizing the primary may participate. This means only registered Republican voters may vote in the Republican presidential primary and only registered Democrats may participate in the Democratic presidential primary.
Moreover, New York has the earliest change-of-party deadline of all 50 states. According to the New York Board of Elections, voters seeking to change their party enrollment must have submitted the appropriate paperwork by Oct. 9, around four or five months after candidates began formally announcing their presidency and more than six months before the New Yorkers would be voting. New voters looking to participate in either the Republican or Democratic primary must have registered with their prospective party by March 25.
Aside from keeping Trump from two easy votes, New York's strict closed primary is expected to have a significant impact of Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has done well in states with open primary events Independents — a voter base he draws favorably from — can participate.
Sanders acknowledged the challenge facing his campaign in New York during a speech in Manhattan's Washington Square Park on Wednesday evening. "We have a system here in New York where Independents can't get involved in the Democratic primary," NPR reported Sanders said. "Where young people who have not previously registered and want to register today just can't do it. So it's going to be a tough primary for us. But you know what I think? When I look out at the thousands of people who are here tonight... I think we've got a surprise for the establishment."
Recent polls averaged by Real Clear Politics show Sanders' rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, holding a double-digit lead in the New York's Democratic contest, while Trump maintains an average lead of 31.9 points ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich.