Silly political quiz and process

NYS presidential primary April 28

voting.booth The New York Times had an online quiz that I filled out a couple weeks ago. It asks you how you stand on certain issues. It then supposedly tells you who your ideal candidate would be, picking from among those still in the Democratic race.

Strictly by the criteria, Bernie Sanders was my #1 pick (10/10), followed by Elizabeth Warren (8/10), Michael R. Bloomberg (5/10), Tom Steyer (4/10), Pete Buttigieg (3/10), and Joseph R. Biden Jr., Amy Klobuchar, and Andrew Yang (2/10 each).

Except, as Mark Evanier noted: “Here’s the problem with a quiz like this. I have to answer each question Yes or No and I don’t think either choice correctly describes my position on most of these questions.” Quite true.

Do you view President Trump’s election as an anomaly? My answer isn’t Yes or No. It’s more like, “I’m not surprised that a lot of Americans wanted what he was offering. I think it’s an anomaly that so many people became convinced he was presidential material and could or would deliver on those promises.”

Moreover, one could find 10, or 100 more questions, meaningful questions, that would totally skew the results.

In the Wall Street Journal, Sheila Barr made The Republican Case for Elizabeth Warren. “She has independence and integrity and is no socialist. She just wants the market to work for everyone.”

Will my vote matter?

But the New York State Democratic primary isn’t until April 28. There’s no way to know who’ll even be in the race by then, besides Mike Bloomberg, who’s self-funding his campaign. My choices will be made by who’s left after the wacky Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire, which, unlike in closed primary New York, allows non-Democrats to vote in the Democratic primary.

Certainly, my options will be determined by Super Tuesday on March 3, when California, Massachusetts, Virginia and other states vote. I feel for supporters of those fallen candidates, such as Julian Castro, Kamala Harris, and Jay Inslee, whose supporters never even got to cast a ballot at all.

The Democrats, because they’re Democrats, will continue to snipe about whoever is the candidate as too liberal or too corporate or too whatever. The incumbent gets four more years, and the recriminations will continue. Incidentally, I think it was brilliant political theater that DJT held rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire in conjunction with the Democrats’ selection process.

I also think that the concentration on Ukraine in the impeachment process ended up hurting Joe Biden in Iowa. It’s likely that some Democrats were scared off by the sniff of scandal and preferred a candidate that wouldn’t have to defend against it in the general election.

Yes, I’m voting on April 28. But unlike some folks, I’m not promising to pick a certain candidate in the primary this far out. I’ve long thought primary voting is “from the heart”. Whereas the general election in November, I’ve already made up my mind.

September 12 is NYS primary voting day

In the recent primary race of the Dans for county executive, the Democratic turnout was well under 25%.

Ginnie Farrell, my candidate for the Albany common council
Primary voting day in the state of New York is usually on the second Tuesday of September. That is unless it lands on September 11, in which case it is moved to Thursday, September 13, the theory being that 9/11 is a time to be set aside.

But what should be more appropriate than to exercise the franchise? 11 September 2001 was primary day, ultimately postponed. I think we ought to take it back, not “let the terrorists win,” as it it were.

Once again I get to kvetch about the dual standard of voting in New York State. In New York City, Long Island, some other downstate counties and in Erie County (Buffalo) the polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., the longest period in the country. But in the rest of the state, the polls are only open from noon to 9 p.m., the shortest time in the country, as of 2016, when I last paid attention to such things nationally.

This year is less problematic than next year, when the statewide races, such as governor, attorney general and comptroller are on the ballot, giving voters downstate a significant advantage. But I hate it EVERY year. In November, I always vote before 6:15 a.m. When the school/library polls open at 7 a.m. each May, I’m one of the first in line.

When the polls don’t open until midday, I have to wait until after work to cast my ballot. And with very competitive races on the Democratic side – the only side that matters, unfortunately, in a one-party city – there may be long lines. I get to vote for county coroner, and citywide races for mayor, judge and president of the common council, plus a race for my common council member.

Or so I hope there are lines. I see on Facebook a lot of comments each primary day about the turnout, and some voter response HAS been historically low. In the recent primary race of the Dans for county executive, the Democratic turnout was well under 25%. I theorized at the time that it was because no one knew what the county executive actually did.

I told my friend Dan (different Dan) that I would use his article about the mayoral election to justify my lawn sign for the incumbent.

This November, I will vote for Ben Sturges for coroner. He’s on the ballot tomorrow on the Democratic line. But even if he loses that party designation, he’ll still be on the ballot as the Working Families Party designee. And if you didn’t find that too complicated, you must be from New York.

Some Albany County candidates in 2017

Why on earth is there such interest in a coroner’s race?

I contacted the Albany County Board of Elections on July 20 and received a list of all the folks who filed the petitions to vie for office this year. Of course, some are running unopposed in their respective parties.

But there will be some contested races on Primary Day, September 12. The primaries are closed in New York State, which means that only the people registered in the party will vote in that race.

And the deadline for changing party affiliation has long since passed. In fact, if you are an already registered voter in NYS who wants to vote in the 2018 primaries, you need to change enrollment by October 13, 2017!

People can still submit independent nominating petitions in August.

Albany Chief City Auditor

Glen P. Casey (D, I)
Susan A. Rizzo (D, WF)

No matter who wins the Democratic primary, the other candidate will still be on the ballot November 7.

Albany County Clerk

Bruce A. Hidley (D, C, I)
Howard M. Koff (R)

Albany County Coroner (2 positions)

Rahmar J. Lockridge (D)
Paul L. Marra (D, C)
Francis M. Simmons (D)
Charles M. Smoot (D)
Scott A. Snide (R, C, I, Ref)
Benjamin M. Sturges 3D (D, WF)

Why on earth is there such interest in a coroner’s race? Why is this an elected position at all?

City of Albany City Court Judge (3 positions)

Michael S. Barone (D)
Sherri J. Brooks (D)
Lavonda S. Collins (D)
Helena M. Heath (D, I)
James E. Long (D, WF, I)
John J. Reilly (D, WF)
Holly A. Trexler (D, WF, I)

The cross-endorsements might matter to some folks.

City of Albany Mayor

Frank J. Commisso Jr. (D, I)
Bryan J. Jimenez (G)
Carolyn McLaughlin (D)
Daniel J. Plaat (G)
Katherine M. Sheehan (D, WF, WE)
Joseph P. Sullivan (C)

The Democratic primary is going to get only nastier, I fear.

Then there were all the Albany Common Council races, which would take too long to list here. But my district has a primary race for the first time in my memory.

City of Albany Pres. Common Council

Corey L. Ellis (D, WF)
Christopher Higgins (D)
Mark A. Robinson (D)

City of Albany Treasurer

Darius Shahinfur (D, WF, I)
Roberta Sims (R, C, Ref)

There are also races in a half dozen towns in the county.

The designations are actual parties in New York State, based on the success of its candidate in the last gubernatorial election, in 2014. Often, but not always, it is the Democrat or Republican who is cross-endorsed. C is for Conservative, WF for Working Families, I is for Independence, WR is Women’s Equality, R is for Reform.

The Independence Party is one reason why I groan when someone identifies themselves as a “registered independent.” What they usually mean is they are not enrolled in a political party at all, which means they CANNOT vote in the primary in New York State.

The Women’s Equality Party is some weird invention of Governor Andrew Cuomo that’s only been around since 2014.

I’m a registered Democrat in the city of Albany because that’s where the contests are, and I don’t want to disenfranchise myself. It’s likely, OK, REALLY likely, although not certain, that the Democratic nominee will win in November, based on historic precedent.

The New York primaries: a review

I use the term “enrolled”, rather than the term “independent” because there is actually an Independence Party in the state of New York.

Someone in my office building asked me to explain what had taken place in the New York primaries on April 13. I said it was complicated and was willing to let it go.

But then the 2political podcast, featuring Arthur in Auckland, New Zealand, and Jason, in Washington, DC, gave it a go, and I thought I would do the same. For their benefit, I should note that the Republicans in this state only list the candidates, four in my Congressional District: Cruz, Kasich, Trump, and Ben Carson, who had dropped out of the race.
Primary ballot
Democrats list the two candidates, Clinton and Sanders, and then the 4 to 7 delegates per Congressional district. (The districts may be of a similar population, but the number of Democrats vary). This article suggested voting for your candidate, but then voting for a mix of Bernie and Hillary delegates, since it’s unlikely that all of the delegates would go to either candidate. This argument made perfect sense to me, but to almost no one else.

There were several layers of voter issues/complaints I heard about, primarily from the Bernie Sanders supporters, because he was the insurgent candidate, who ended up losing by about 13 percentage points.

The thing that is the way it is, but could change

* New York is a closed primary state. This means that only people registered to vote and enrolled in a party can vote in that party’s primary can vote. I use the term “enrolled”, rather than the term “independent” because 1) it’s more precise and 2) there is actually an Independence Party in the state of New York that received enough votes in the last gubernatorial general election for someone to enroll in that party, or as a Conservative, Green, Working Families, Women’s Equality (essentially a creation of Governor Andrew Cuomo), Reform, and of course the Big Two.

In some primary states voting earlier, non-enrolled voters could vote in the Democratic primary OR the Republican primary (but not both). This is NOT the case in New York. The Democratic and Republican parties don’t want people not enrolled to select their candidates, rightly or not. Their concern that these nonenrolled voters might cause mischief. Those who lean toward the Republican party might pick the Democrat least likely to win in the general election, or vice versa.

There is legislation introduced in the state legislature to allow nonenrolled people to be able to vote in a party primary, but I don’t know what chances it has.

The things that are the way they are, but should change

* For already registered voters, any change to party enrollment was to have been requested by October 9th, 2015 in order for it to have gone into effect and be applicable for ANY primary election occurring in 2016. This is, BY MONTHS, the earliest deadline of ANY state. The cutoff to enroll in earlier voting primary states, such as New Hampshire, was MUCH later. I wrote about this in the Times Union blog on August 30, 2015, after analyzing the information offered at

And this October 9, 2015 enrollment deadline for existing voters is applicable for the LATER primaries in the state of New York, including the state and local primary races in September 2016. The deadline for new voter registrations and enrollment was March 25th. I DO think there was some confusion on this point, from people who thought they had until March 25 of this year to enroll in a party, whether or not they were new voters.

* In primary elections, voters in New York City and the counties of Nassau and Suffolk (Long Island), Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam (just north of New York City) and Erie (Buffalo), POLLS OPEN AT 6 AM and CLOSE AT 9 PM. At 15 hours, this is the LONGEST period of any primary in the country.

In all other counties, POLLS OPEN AT 12 NOON and CLOSE AT 9 PM, which, at a mere 9 hours, is the SHORTEST period of any primary state in the nation. And not being able to vote before work is rather annoying.

Real, actual problems

Anecdotally, I was reading on Facebook about people who had been voting regularly but were suddenly unregistered. A plurality of these in my area were in Rensselaer County (Troy). Periodically, the local board of Elections sends out a postcard to ascertain whether someone is still at that address. The postcard is not to be forwarded. If the BOE gets the card back, voters are usually stricken from the rolls.

More substantially, 120,000 voters were stricken from the rolls in Kings County (Brooklyn), and other irregularities were cited. Moreover, many people across the country, including New York and California, are reporting problems with their voter registrations being changed without their permission. In New York, at least, an investigation has been launched.

Unfortunately, some folks have conflated the three areas, making understanding the process even more muddled. The long deadline to vote in the primary is a form of voter suppression, I suppose, even more so in the later primaries in the year.
Here’s how Albany County voted in the GOP presidential primary.

Presidential primary in New York is April 19

The polls do not open until 12 noon in most of upstate New York

vote-button-3A grumpy person’s guide to the Presidential primary in New York:

1. If you’re not enrolled in a political party (Democratic or Republican), you can’t vote, because they are closed primaries. New York has, arguably, the most restrictive primary voting regulations in the country. New voters had to enroll in a party by March 25, but previously registered folks would have had to have switched their party affiliation by October 9 of LAST year. There is pending legislation to change that, but it won’t affect this year.

Find out if you are registered to vote if you are enrolled in a party, and where you vote.

2. If you need to vote by absentee ballot, it’s too late to write the Board of Elections a letter requesting it. However, you can pick up an application, or print one out, and deliver the application in person no later than the day before the election, i.e., April 18.

3. The absentee ballot itself “must either be personally delivered to the board of elections no later than the close of polls on election day, or postmarked by a governmental postal service not later than the day before the election and received no later than the 7th day after the election.”

4. You may need that absentee ballot because the polls do not open until 12 noon in most of upstate New York, closing at 9 p.m. In New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Erie, the polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m.

5. You will have the opportunity to vote for the candidates and, on the Democratic side, also their delegates. Whether or not you vote for delegates, the candidates will get delegates proportionate to his or her votes. So if there are seven delegate slots, whoever get more votes, based on the allocation, will be the first one or ones chosen to go to the convention.

The candidates on the Democratic side are U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The candidates on the Republican side are business mogul Donald J. Trump, governor John R. Kasich (OH), surgeon Ben Carson, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (TX).

Here are some demographics of New Yorkers.