Local voter registration holds steady

Active voter enrollment for the general election this year compared to 2008 is down by about 900 in Delaware County but holding steady in Otsego County, according to data obtained from county elections officials Friday.

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are in a heated race for the White House and for voters’ support on Election Day.  

In New York state, the deadline to register to vote for this year’s Nov. 8 election was Oct. 14, with postmarked registrations due by Oct. 19, officials said. Active enrollment figures change daily as records are verified for addresses, deaths and other factors that result in inactive status, officials said.

At 33,844 voters as of Friday, active enrollment in Otsego County is consistent, said Michael Henrici, Democratic commissioner of elections. Active voters numbered 33,322 in 2012 and 33,829 in 2008, and he said the numbers reflect greater interest in years of presidential elections without an incumbent.

However, the local rate of voter registration is higher this year than in 2008 when considering Otsego County’s population decline, said Laurel Elder, professor of political science at Hartwick College in Oneonta.

Otsego County’s estimated population of 60,636 on July 1, 2015, was down 2.6 percent from 62,259 on April 1, 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Elder said voter registration is on track this year to result in a higher turnout on Election Day locally and nationally than in 2008. Results in New York might be higher if the state didn’t make it so difficult to register, she said.

“It’s a significant burden,” she said. In New York, voters have to register 25 days ahead of an election and also if they moved, among other restrictions, she said, and New York doesn’t have same-day voter registration.

New York, which isn’t a battleground state, has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation, Elder said.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states plus the District of Columbia offer same-day registration, allowing any qualified resident of the state to go to the polls or an election official’s office, either before or on Election Day, register to vote, then cast a ballot, all in that day.

In most other states, voters must register by a deadline before Election Day, the organization’s website said, and the deadline varies by state, with most falling between eight and 30 days before the election.

The U.S. Census Bureau website also reported a population in Delaware County at an estimated 46,053 people on July 1, 2015, down from 47,980 on April 1, 2010, a decrease of 4 percent.

In Delaware County, active voter enrollment this year was 26,668, compared to 26,603 in 2012 and 27,609 in 2008, elections data showed Friday.

Delaware and Otsego counties have more registered Republicans than Democrats, but each county also has thousands of unaffiliated or “blank” voters.

Statewide voter registration figures will be released Nov. 1, spokesman John Conklin of the New York State Board of Elections said Friday. Conklin said voters who registered but missed the Oct. 14 and 19 deadlines still are registered and may vote in the next election cycle in their community. 

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