Cuomo signs bill to ease switching parties

New York voters will have more time to change their political parties to participate in next year’s primaries under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

State law previously would have required New Yorkers to file forms to switch their party enrollments before Oct. 11 to vote in that party’s presidential primary next April or its state and congressional primaries that June, if they had been registered with a different party or had no party affiliation. The new law gives them until Feb. 14 – 10 weeks before the presidential primary – to join a new party and have that take effect for the primaries, which are open only to voters enrolled in the party holding the nominating contest.

“Voting should be simple and easy,” Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, a City of Newburgh Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a statement from Cuomo’s office. “During this year’s session, the Legislature passed many significant voting reforms, including early voting. The bill that Governor Cuomo signed today dramatically extends the time for voters to change their party enrollment.”

The Legislature passed the bill in party-line votes – Democrats in support, Republicans in opposition – on the final days of the legislative session in June.

Cuomo said of the bill: “While the federal administration continues to look for new ways to disenfranchise voters across the country, in New York we are making monumental changes to break down more barriers to the ballot box and encourage more people to exercise this fundamental right.”

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