Posters spotted around campus last week encouraged students to register to vote in the Democratic primaries, but contained a crucial error, displaying a mistake regarding the deadline for changing voting party registration leading up to the election.
New York state has closed primary elections, meaning that those who wish to vote in the primaries must be registered for their intended party by a date set by the state. The posters, which contained no identifying information about who was responsible for posting them, incorrectly stated that the last day to register for the Democratic primary is April 13.
Alison Handy Twang, associate director of the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), wrote in an email that the date for current voters to change their party registration has since passed.
“[New York state] has an early deadline for current voters who wish to change their party affiliation in advance of a primary election,” Twang wrote. “Friday, Feb. 14 is the deadline for the Board of Elections to receive a change of party enrollment from current [New York state] voters who want to change their party for the 2020 primary season. This deadline applies to both the April 28 presidential primary and the June 23 local, state and federal primaries.”
While the deadline to change party alignment passed, voters who are not registered for any party can still choose to do so and vote in the primary elections. For first-time registration, applications by mail need to be postmarked before April 3. In-person registration must be done by the same date.
Twang said the CCE was unaware that the posters were going up around campus, and wants to make sure that students know the correct dates and information for the voting process.
“We do not know who hung the flyers with the incorrect party enrollment change deadline,” Twang wrote. “It seems that they may have intended to note that the deadline to change your party enrollment was [Thursday, Feb. 13]. That would also have been misleading, but because they linked to the [Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)] website it would have technically been correct.”
In New York state, voters also have the option to use the DMV online portal to register to vote, and the last day to change party enrollment through this option was Feb. 13.
Binghamton University’s College Democrats confirmed they were not responsible for posting the flyers, and Tim Markbreiter, president of College Democrats and a sophomore majoring in political science, said the organization did what they could to take them down. Since the poster said the deadline was two months later than the actual date, he said there is a possibility that some students did not change their political registration in time.
“I heard about these posters from our vice president,” Markbreiter said. “We have no idea who put them up and we did our best to ensure that these posters came down. After seeing these posters, I’m nervous that there will be more efforts to suppress the student vote. While I would rather assume that this was a genuine mistake, it is also fair to assume that these efforts were made to intentionally suppress the student vote, which is a scary thing for any student, no matter their political affiliation.”
Markbreiter said students who may have been misled by these posters should still exercise their right to vote in the future.
“If there are students who missed the deadline to register with a party because of these posters, I want to implore them to not feel dissuaded from voting in future elections because of this one incident,” Markbreiter said. “Voting is one of the most integral parts of living in a democracy and no one should be pushed away from doing their duty as citizens of this country.”