The Essential Voter Survival Guide for Tuesday's NY Primary
Now that we’ve seen five presidential candidates hit the city and go on a grand tour of pandering to try and secure votes, the day of voter reckoning is almost upon us. Tomorrow, on April 19th, hundreds of thousands of people are set to hit the voting booths hard and cast their ballot for whom they think would ruin the country the least. Voting in New York is, like most other things, unnecessarily complex, confusing, and the most likely the source of your next headache. It’s also become one of the most competitive contests in the election for the Democratic candidates.
After drawing 27,000 and 28,300 people at rallies in Washington Square Park and Prospect Park, respectively, this past week, Bernie Sanders has suddenly turned the state where Hillary Clinton served as Senator for eight years into a battleground—though he still trails by about 13 percent in polls. On the Republican side, Donald Trump holds a nearly 30 percent lead over John Kasich while Ted Cruz struggles to win over the five people who don’t hate him due to his “New York values” comment awhile back.
Far removed from the drama the candidates have engaged in over the last few days, the primary contest in New York is already embroiled in controversy. There are reports of alleged voter fraud and there has been widespread backlash over the voting system, which is admittedly more broken than the MTA during rush hour. “New York state has some of the most archaic voter laws in the entire country,” New York Assemblyman Fred Thiele explained. “If you want to vote in New York, you really have to want to; and even if you want to vote, sometimes they won’t let you.”
That’s because, in New York state, the deadline to register to vote was weeks ago on March 25th, despite there being 11states in the U.S. where same-day voting is allowed. Even worse, if you need to change your political party, that was no longer possible after 180 days ago on October 9th, 2015. That means the 3.2 million New Yorkers who don’t identify as Democrats or Republicans on their voter registration cards—including Ivanka and Eric Trump—can’t vote unless they changed their party last year. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that New York’s primary system is a clusterfuck of confusing and outdated rules. To help you out tomorrow, here’s the essential guide to surviving election day in New York state.
Step 1: What’s Your Registration Status?
The first thing you need to do is make sure you haven’t been caught in the trap of not being eligible to vote or forgetting to register as a New York state voter if you’re here for school. You can CLICK HERE to check your status and see what political party you’re registered under.
For the city dwellers that know what county they’re in, here’s your salvation: The Bronx is Bronx County, Brooklyn is Kings County, Manhattan is New York County, Queens is Queens County, and Staten Island is Richmond County.
Step 2: Where’s Your Polling Place?
Unfortunately, if you found out you are registered as any other party, this is where the journey ends for you personally. Though we highly encourage you to help your friends prepare to vote. Assuming that you’re either registered as a Democrat or Republican, the next step is to figure out where the hell you need to show up to so you can cast your vote. You can CLICK HERE to see where that is and what the hours are for that particular polling location.
Step 3: Plan Your Vote
Now that you know you’re registered to vote in this election and know where to go, the next step is to plan your day. Most polling sites open as early as 6AM and close at 9PM, so you should be set. If you’re workin’ that 9-5 job, we’d suggest waking up early and going before work. Otherwise,New York law entitles you up to 2 hours of PAID time off work. That’s right. You can get paid to vote. If that’s not your thing, though, head over after work. Stay in line, though, because in a state contest where so many voters aren’t eligible to vote, your voice matters twice as much.
Step 4: Show Up
Look, this isn’t that wild club you told your friend you’d meet them at in a half hour, when in reality you’re laying in bed naked painting your nails and watching Cujo on Netflix. Showing up to vote is an essential part of being a politically active American. Well, that and getting into Facebook arguments with your racist family members.
Show up, vote, and then go buy yourself a celebratory bagel. New York is counting on you.
Stay tuned to Milk for more election coverage.
Original imagery via Kathryn Chadason. Additional images via Bernie Sanders, Washington Times, Across the Universe, Business Insider, Friends, and The Blaze.