We’ve seen decades of declining turnout in primary elections in New York, with the worst numbers coming at the local level. This is incredibly dangerous in a state with closed primaries, especially in cities where voter enrollment trends towards one Party. As a result, a tiny number of voters can elect an extreme candidate, putting the community and the voting majority at a huge disadvantage. Take the recent example of the City of Buffalo — Mayor Byron Brown was running for re-election in 2021 with no Republican opponent in the general election. With turnout around 20% in the Democratic primary, he was upset by a first-time candidate and socialist named India Walton. Walton received just over 11,000 votes to win in a city of more than 250,000!
On the other hand, closed primaries can reward lackluster incumbents and completely shut out voters, allowing machine incumbents automatic re-election merely because most voters are legally barred from voting. In June of 2021, the incumbent Mayor of Albany — a city reeling from a violent crime spree and massive economic issues — won a Democratic primary for Mayor with a mere 3700 votes in a City of about 100,000 people!