With school board elections and the June primary for the Assembly, it seems we’re making more trips to our polling precinct than we might make to the gym. If only filling ovals on a ballot equaled 30 minutes on the elliptical.
But we’ll be called to exercise our civic duty not once more this year, but twice, beginning with a second primary in just a few weeks, on Aug. 23, when we will decide on party nominees for the U.S. House and State Senate races. And then we’ll have to choose from among all of them in November to finally decide who will represent us.
And if that weren’t confusing enough, this month’s primary is giving us the chance to do something that none of us have done in a New York election before: vote for candidates from political parties that aren’t our own.
It’s not quite the “open primary” in use in a number of states — in which voters can select representatives from any and all parties when there’s more than one candidate — but it’s close.
Anyone casting a ballot for this last primary has the option to choose their political party any time up to, and including, primary day itself, meaning that if you’re a Republican and want to cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, all you need to do is re-register.
Allowing voters to change party affiliation is nothing new, of course. But the cutoff is generally in February. That changed when courts got involved in the census-fueled redistricting process that ultimately split the primaries to June and August.
This could allow for some savvy voters to play spoiler in other political parties. Like in the State Senate’s 7th District, which covers a number of North Shore communities, including Glen Cove and Sea Cliff. Generally, Republicans wouldn’t even need to come out for this race, because there’s just one candidate, the Republican Jack Martins. However, Republicans looking to have a voice in whom Martins faces in November could change their party affiliation to Democratic up until Aug. 23, and cast votes for Jeremy Joseph.
If Joseph gets enough votes, he could topple incumbent Democratic State Sen. Anna Kaplan, who’s expected to win re-election otherwise.
That strategy could also extend to the congressional races, like in the South Shore seat U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice is giving up. Once again, there’s just a single Republican running — Hempstead Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito — but five Democrats.
Many see that primary race as a battle between Malverne Mayor Keith Corbett and former Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen. But non-Democrats could easily jump into that contest and boost any of the other challengers, like Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages, or even one of the virtually unknown newcomers, Muzib Huq or Kevin Bryan Shakil.
How much of an impact this “open” primary may have is debatable — but as long as the possibility is there, it can’t be discounted. Especially if, as expected, there is low turnout.
Yes, district lines have changed, but the adjustments are not as dramatic as they were. And this is yet another call to your local polling place when you’ve already been asked twice before.
But don’t let that discourage you from casting a ballot. We tend to think our votes don’t matter, but they do — even when elections aren’t close. Freely expressing a meaningful choice on who should represent you is something not many other countries enjoy. And for us, it’s not a luxury, it’s a right — a right so many have fought (and even died) to protect and preserve for us.
If you don’t want to go to the polls yourself, you have until Monday, Aug. 8, to request an absentee ballot. You can also cast your ballot early, between Aug. 13 and 21. For more information on any of this, go to www.NassauCountyNY.gov/566/Board-of-Elections.
Sure, another vote a big ask. But it’s also what’s expected of every one of us as Americans.