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More time to switch parties and vote in NY presidential primary

A voter casts a ballot at West Babylon

A voter casts a ballot at West Babylon Junior High School on Nov. 3, 2015. The New York presidential primaries are slated for April 28, 2020. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

New York has been labeled the hardest state to change your political party affiliation and vote in primaries.  

But things just got a little easier, under a new law championed for years by Democrats in the State Legislature.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a measure Thursday that extends the deadline from Oct. 11 to Feb. 14, 2020. That gives voters four extra months — and a chance to take in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries — before making a decision.

The New York presidential primaries are slated for April 28.

Congressional and legislative primaries are scheduled for June 23.

"This measure will make it easier for New Yorkers to have their voices heard in presidential, congressional and state primaries,” Cuomo said in a statement.

New York has been known as the hardest state to change party affiliation — a status that drew national attention in the 2016 presidential primaries. Residents had to make any switches effectively six months before a presidential primary and longer than that for state office primaries. Legislators said the requirement tamped down voter turnout.

The new law greatly reduces the time, though New York still won’t be as lenient as many other states.

"With the change we're enacting today, we're significantly diminishing an obstacle that has prevented many New Yorkers from joining the party of their choice and participating in our primary elections,” bill sponsor Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Manhattan) said.

Senate Democrats had pushed for a change for years but were blocked by Republicans who then controlled the Senate. But Democrats won control in the 2018 elections.

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