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Why the heck are New Yorkers voting on a Thursday?

Why the heck are New Yorkers voting on a Thursday?
[Photo: Flickr user Lorie Shaull]

If you live in the state of New York and are standing in line to vote, you may be wondering why you are voting on a Thursday. After all, federal, state, and local elections have been held on Tuesdays since the 1840s. This year is special—and not just because a Sex and the City star is trying to unseat the governor.

Normally, New York State primaries would be held on the second Tuesday in September. But this year, that day was Tuesday, September 11. That is not a good day for New Yorkers, as it marks the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which is always a solemn occasion in the city. Additionally this year, September 11 was the final evening of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and one of the Jewish religion’s High Holy days.

Because of these conflicts, the legislature decided to move the election. Not to another Tuesday, but to a random Thursday. Specifically, Thursday, September 13. The date change will most likely depress voter turnout, which is traditionally already low. Ever since a lawsuit in 2012, federal primaries have been held in June. But practically speaking, few people have time to head to the polls three times—June and September for primaries and then again in November for the general election. New York State already has some of the lowest voter turnout rates in the nation, data show, and having multiple days for primaries only makes it harder.

As one expert speaking with CBS Radio noted, there have been some rumblings about moving the state primary to June, when the federal primary is held. That would even save taxpayers at least $25 million in election fees, but incumbents (aka the people in charge of making such decisions) have no interest in making the switch, because when there is low voter turnout, they get the advantage.

That’s bad news for the candidates running for governor, lieutenant governor, the state Senate, and the state Assembly who hope to oust an incumbent. In short, if you want a revolution, you have to vote—even if it’s on a Thursday.

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