Voters need to act fast if they want to change their party affiliation in New York State for the upcoming primaries. The deadline, Friday, February 14th, Valentine’s Day, applies only to currently registered voters who want to switch from their current party or go from being a blank (what New York calls unaffiliated registered voters) to a committed party member.

While it might seem early with the presidential primary on April 28th (early voting is April 18-April 26) and state and congressional primaries June 23rd (early voting is June 13, 2020-June 21)—this week's deadline is actually one of the last election reforms that managed to pass the Democrat-controlled state legislature at the end of session in 2019. Previously, if a New York voter wanted to change their party, they would need to make the change by October of the year before primary.

Registration forms are available online for download in several places like the New York State Board of Elections, the New York City Board of Elections, and the New York City Campaign Finance Board, where forms are available in 16 different languages (but must be completed in English). They’re also available at libraries, post offices, and most New York City government agencies. 

Wherever you find your form, it must be filled out and signed by hand. Then it must be mailed or hand-delivered to a local Board of Elections office by Friday. If you are changing your party affiliation, pay special attention to field 14 where you make your party selection—and check only one box.

NYC Board of Elections

Currently, the only place where you can register or update your voter information online is through the Department of Motor Vehicles. A voter must have a driver’s license or non-driver’s identification card to complete the process.

Keep in mind, New York primaries are only open to registered party members. During the 2016 presidential primary, besides problems stemming from a voter purge, the state’s closed primary system also became a flashpoint for voters who faced problems at the polls.

For voters in Queens, the special election for borough president is coming up next month on March 24th. The last day to register to vote in that contest is February 28th. Any registered voter, regardless of party, is eligible to cast a ballot in that race. On Tuesday, the Board of Elections announced the 18 early voting sites which will be available to voters from March 14th-March 22nd.