New York Primary Elections are scheduled for April 19th. A little over a month ago I was checking out voteforbernie.org and saw that the requirements to vote in the primaries for each state were different and vary in their complications.
I knew I was registered to vote but got nervous when I saw it highlighted that I must be registered as a Democrat to vote in the primary. I had a faint memory of filling out my voter registration form a few years ago when I got my New York license and had a feeling that I had marked “Independent”. While I have always voted Democrat and primarily identify with that party’s policies and beliefs, I didn’t like the idea of being pigeon-holed or labeled as just one thing.
I used Bernie’s site to search my voter’s registration information where I confirmed that my memory was correct, I was not registered as a Democrat. I hurriedly began scouring the internet to figure out how I could change this so I could vote in the primary. I felt relieved when I finally went through about a ten minute process on the NYDMV website where it was my understanding that I had changed my party affiliation.
After sharing this with my husband he mentioned that he wanted to make sure all of his information was in order for voting as well. It was my (mistaken) understanding that we had until March 25th to be completely registered. So, while taking care of a few things online today I decided to check his voter registration information and re-check my own which should have been updated a month ago. After inputting my info I was frustrated to see that I was still listed as having no party affiliation. I went back to Bernie’s website to reread the New York information. Turns out I had not read clearly, the March 25th deadline was for NEW VOTERS ONLY. It reads: If you are currently registered to vote in New York and are not registered as a Democrat, you will not be able to vote for Bernie. Turns out I had to “affiliate” by October 9th of last year.
My prospects do not look good, but I plan on heading to my local Board of Elections office this week to see if there is anything I can do to change my eligibility to vote in this primary. My right to vote is important to me.
I realize I am privileged. I have this week off of work so I have the time to visit my Board of Elections office. I am also young and in good health, so I have the mobility to go and seek out this information and in my own small way fight for my right to vote. I have a feeling there are many who are not as fortunate and will be livid when they show up as registered voters and are turned away because they did not realize or understand the whole process.
I’ve been thinking all day: Why is this so complicated? Why is registering with the party I wish to vote for over 2 months before the election not sufficient? Then I started to beat myself up. I thought: Did it say on that form where I marked “Independent” that I would not be able to vote in another Party’s primary? Why did I not pay closer attention? Why did I not check my voter registration information sometime last year instead?
Sure, I could stand to be a bit more organized–but so should the voting process. You shouldn’t have to read between the lines to exercise your rights as an American Citizen.
I’m frustrated because voter turnout for Democrats has once again been a fraction of that of the Republicans. It doesn’t matter how many articles we share on Facebook or how many Bernie lines we reTweet, the only way we can really make a difference is by getting off our butts and heading out there to vote. If they aren’t going to let me exercise my right on April 19th, I at least have to use my voice to get a few more voters out there.
Forget the attitude that your one vote can’t make a difference. I think this election more than any other in our history will highlight the importance of each individual vote. When we are threatened by fear and hate, each individual must stand up for courage and love. When others look to turn back the progress we have have made as a Nation, the individual must dig in their heels, and move their weight forward. When big corporations whose interests represent only a few wield their power, the individual must band together with their neighbor and reveal the strength in their voice when it is supported by millions of others similarly refusing to be stifled.
Depending on where you live, it’s not too late; check out the website above and make sure that your position to vote in the primary is secure. If you are too late for the primary, do not despair–move forward. Make sure you are registered so you are able to vote in November. At a time when so many others around the world are desperate for the freedoms we take for granted, we MUST appreciate and exercise the rights that are constitutionally ours. Whether you live in a “Red” State or a “Blue” State, your vote will be counted. YOUR vote matters.
All those “likes” for liberal articles on Facebook need to be VOTES. Let’s not go backwards. America is great. It can be even better. Let’s come together, lean in, and push forward.