The Primary Problem

While New York has many political problems, one gaping issue in front of both Parties is the fact that we have a closed primary system.  That means that in order to vote in a Party Primary, you must be an enrolled member of that Party.  Most New Yorkers think, “of course you do!  Where in the world would you be allowed to vote in a primary if you weren’t a member of the Party?”

The answer is pretty much everywhere but New York.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New York is one of only nine states in the nation with a fully closed primary system.  It is astonishing to most to New York voters to hear it, but we are truly out of the ordinary when it comes to this issue. 

Our friends at Unite America have put together a great piece on why primaries are the key place to fix a broken system that they have called “the Primary Problem.”  Take a look.

Here at Unite New York, we view the closed primary system in the State as a problem not because we think Republicans should get to decide who runs as a Democrat or that Democrats should pick Republican candidates, but because there is a deeper issue at hand.  Just last year, in the dead of night and under the auspice of a COVID relief bill, the Governor and Legislature effectively killed off 5 minor Parties, throwing 500,000 New Yorkers that had registered out of their Parties.

This was done by making ballot access incredibly more difficult – TRIPLING the number of signatures required to get a candidate on the ballot and making it nearly impossible to create or maintain a minor party. 

Half a million New Yorkers could very easily be welcomed into the primary process of any of the four established parties with a simple rule change.  Would it be worth it?  Well, as of January 1, 2021, there were more unaffiliated voters (blanks) than there are registered Republicans in New York.  Why not welcome them into the Primary?