Remember waaaaay back when you were 18 — teen angst coursing through your veins as you listened to your favorite [insert moody band name here] record? One day back then, a letter from the New York State Board of Elections shows up in your mailbox. Not wanting to conform to the “man” you check that independent or unaffiliated box and mail that sucker back in, pronto.

Well unfortunately, in New York State that’s not really going to help come election time this year. Let us explain why…

So you’re registered to vote as an independent or unaffiliated, but you’re really digging what Candidate X, has to say. You’re gung-ho about this person and look forward to heading out on Primary Day to make your voice heard.

“I love her!” You’ll say. Or, “I can’t wait to vote for him!”

Candidate X is running for the ABC party nomination. You show up at your local polling place, ready to fill out that dot and scan that ballot. The sweet, little old lady manning the registration books tells you you’re not registered for ABC party. Why would that be a problem, you think? Well in NYS, in the primaries, you can’t vote in an ABC primary unless you’re affiliated as such. Candidate Y, who you really didn’t like, ends up winning the primary, and Candidate X isn’t even someone you can vote for on general election day. Bummer.

That’s the problem we deal with in our two-party system — in NYS and the good ol’ USA. You may hate it, and you may wish to see it changed, but that’s no reason to sit on the sidelines and hope that maybe one day it will be different. You can participate now, whether you’re leaning to the right or the left.

If you’re agreeing with us up to this point – heads up! NYS has a ridiculous law that requires voter registration to be updated 25 days before this November’s general election. That change doesn’t become active until after this November’s general election — meaning you must update your voter registration by October 9th of 2015 to vote in the 2016 primaries.

So there are a couple of ways to handle this predicament, and do what’s best for Buffalo (participate in all levels of elections that decide who leads our region), before tomorrow’s deadline:

— Use this NYS site to determine voting deadlines and fill out a voter registration form to be mailed in. (

— Come to Essex St. Pub from 6pm – 8pm tonight for Beer & Politics! Legislator Pat Burke will be in attendance passing out voter registration forms, which he will personally hand deliver to the Board of Elections tomorrow morning to meet the deadline. RSVP here (

— Use this NYS site to complete an electronic voter registration. (

Get out there and be heard, dammit!