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Registration of new voters increases as primaries close in

March 31, 2016
By Jimmy McCarthy ( , Westfield Republican

Presidential candidates from both major parties will vie for delegates in New York next month, bringing an uptick in voter registration applications throughout the state and county.

Statewide, 40,883 voter registration applications - including 20,889 first-time voters - were processed between March 10-20 by the state's online voter registration system, MyDMV. On March 18, 13,961 voter registrations were received, including 7,128 first-time voters. The Democratic and Republican presidential primaries in New York are set for April 19.

New York voters had until March 25 to register in order to cast a vote in the upcoming presidential primaries. Registered voters must be enrolled as Democratic or Republican in order to vote in the presidential primary elections.

"Business is definitely picking up on the voter registration website, and we couldn't be more pleased with these results," said Terri Egan, executive deputy commissioner for the state Department of Motor Vehicles. "Casting a ballot to vote on the future of our country is one of the most fundamentally important things we can do as Americans."

Over 1,000 new voters registered in Chautauqua County this year, according to Brian Abram, Republican elections commissioner, and Norm Green, Democratic elections commissioner.

"It's certainly a dramatic uptick from the nonpresidential cycle, but it kind of is a normal occurrence for a presidential year," Green said.

Around 800 high school students registered this year, an increase from the previous presidential cycle when the total was around 600, Abram said.

"We track it every year, and that by far is the largest total we have ever garnered out the 18 school districts in the county," he said. "To hit an 800 number is pretty significant. You have the (Donald) Trump factor and the students seem to be a little more engaged. It's a combination of things."

Green said turnout during next month's presidential primary could be between 10-20 percent of the eligible voter population.

The primaries in New York go by congressional district, meaning presidential candidates are able to come away with delegates upon meeting a certain threshold.

"In the Democratic Party's case, we have five delegates up for grabs. Someone could technically win all five, but they would have to get 81 percent of the vote," Green said.

Abram said voter turnout is hard to grasp with a number of scenarios that could play out over the coming weeks. Circumstances possibly altering turnout include whether Hillary Clinton has the Democratic side locked up by the New York primary and how far ahead Republican front-runner Donald Trump is by April 19.

On the Democratic side, 2,383 delegates are needed to secure the nomination. A total of 291 delegates are up for grabs in New York.

Republican presidential candidates need 1,237 delegates to be the party's nominee. A total of 95 GOP delegates are up for grabs in New York. Abram said Republican candidates getting over 50 percent of the vote would receive all the delegates.

"It can be winner-take-all, but you have to be dominant to get them all," he said.



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