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September 7, 2013

Primary Day features 21 races in Clinton County

PLATTSBURGH — The lineup for this year’s Primary Day election in Clinton County may be light, but it remains an important cog in the electoral system.

“Most people underestimate the importance of primaries, but it means everything in the electoral process,” Clinton County Democratic Party Chairman Martin Mannix said.

“People absolutely need to get out and vote.”

In Clinton County, 21 primaries will be held on Tuesday, but only two are head-to-head battles. Democratic Party voters will choose a candidate in wards 1 and 3 of the City of Plattsburgh.

OPPORTUNITY TO BALLOT

In 14 cases, the primaries will feature one candidate on the ballot for the Independence or Conservative parties, with what is known as an “opportunity to ballot” for other candidates.

That simply means that voters can choose the candidate listed on the ballot or write in any other person they choose.

In five races, there will be no candidate listed, and voters in the Independence and Conservative Parties can write in any choice they want.

Polls will be open from noon to 9 p.m.

CLOSED PRIMARIES

While primaries do not get the same attention that general elections do, they have been an important part of the system in New York for more than a century.

According to SUNY Plattsburgh political science professor and Department Chair Harvey L. Schantz, primaries were instituted in the state in 1911, following a national trend at the time.

New York state has a closed primary, he explained, which means that only people registered with a party can vote in that party’s primary. So for example, you have to be a registered Democrat to vote in the Democratic primary.

Schantz says the lack of participation in primaries this year by candidates is not unusual.

UNUSUAL RACE

But one race is more intriguing.

In Ward 1 of the city, incumbent Councilor Timothy Carpenter and Rachelle Armstrong are both seeking the Democratic Party nod.

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