A lot has changed in the presidential primaries since 9 October 2015. Back then, a CBS News poll showed Hillary Clinton beating Bernie Sanders nationally by nearly 20 points; if Joe Biden had entered the race, the same poll suggested Clinton would beat Sanders by 24 points. She was, in the minds of many liberal voters, the inevitable Democratic nominee. Another CBS News poll showed Donald Trump with a slim six-point lead over Dr Ben Carson nationally and, after two almost cartoonish debate performances, most Republicans and pundits expected the businessman’s numbers to slide and eventually eliminate him from contention. Quietly on that same day, the New York state board of elections’ deadline to change party affiliation passed, leaving any registered voters not identified as a Republican or a Democrat with no way to vote in the 19 April 2016 primary.
The deadline to register to vote for the first time in the New York primary passed on 25 March 2016; there is no in-person registration in the state, even to cast a provisional ballot.
As New York’s primary approaches, it is only now that many would-be voters are realizing they will be unable to vote next Tuesday.
New York is one of only 11 states with closed primaries – ie primaries in which only voters who are registered as Republicans or Democrats are allowed to cast ballots – and it is the only state in which currently registered voters must declare their party affiliation more than six months before a primary in order to vote.