Deadline for registered voters who want to switch parties


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– There’s an important deadline if you want your voice heard in one of this year’s primaries. Voters don’t go to the polls in Connecticut until April but Tuesday’s deadline is for switching parties.

This deadline is only for people who are currently registered to vote, and registered in a political party, and who want to switch to a different political party. Tuesday is the last day to switch parties.

If you are not registered to vote, or if you’re registered to vote, but not affiliated with a party, you still have weeks to sign up and join a party. Tuesday’s deadline is only if, for instance, you’re a registered Democrat, but really want to vote for Donald Trump in the Republican primary, Tuesday is your last day to switch parties.

To do that, you either go to your city or town hall and go to the registrar’s office, or you just go online. “You go to the website, which is CT.gov, or our website,” said Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. “If you have a Connecticut driver license, and you’re already registered, you just go online and change your registration. it takes about 30 seconds.”

It’s likely that not a lot of people will do that, however. National polls show more people than ever before are choosing not to join a party. A Gallup poll has 42 percent of voters unaffiliated. Here in Connecticut, we’re seeing a small move in that direction.

“We’ve had pretty much the same split for many, many years, which is about 700,000 Democrats, about 400,000 Republicans, and the number of unaffiliates is slowly increasing,” Merrill said. “I don’t want to speculate, but maybe it’s because we get a lot of our news from the national media now.”

Unaffiliated voters are increasing to the point where they are the biggest voting block of all. Experts say people are fed up with partisan politics, so even though they might hold strong partisan views, they are not actually signing up with a party. We can see that sentiment in the popularity of presidential candidates who consider themselves outsiders, like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Unfortunately, in Connecticut at least, you have to be in the party in order to vote in the party’s primary, so fewer affiliated voters means it’s a much smaller group choosing who will run for president. If you are not registered or not a party member, you can still register or join a party up to 5 days before the April primary.