Could largely Democratic primaries decide elections?

On September 12, voters head to the polls in the state's largest cities to vote in mayoral primaries. But the drama in some of those contests could be limited to that vote.

"Generally speaking, winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to winning the election," said Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg.

That's because Democrats dominate voter rolls in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and New York City. And in Albany, the GOP doesn't have a declared candidate. It's a heavy lift for Republicans in a city historically dominated by Democrats.

"You'd have to have all the right things going for you," said former Albany County Republican chairman Don Cleary. "You'd have to have an incumbent under indictment; you'd have to have the city just literally in flames."

And with closed primaries potentially deciding who wins weeks before the general election, that can lead to voter apathy.

"Turnout in New York has been in a slow downward spiral now for decades," said Blair Horner with the New York Public Interest Research Group. "There's no reason to expect that's going to change."

One way of changing that is reforming how elections are held and how voters are registered.

"Make it easier for people to be automatically registered," Horner said. "You can allow people to register on Election Day. So there are things you can do to enhance the registration opportunities for people who are new to the system."

But the general election does matter in New York. In addition to several constitutional amendments, voters will consider a referendum for a constitutional convention. It's unclear what potentially low turnout could mean for that vote.

"It's hard to say, because the polling has been a little bit across the board in terms of who these 'con con' supporters are," said Greenberg. "It's not straight upstaters support, downstaters oppose or Democrats oppose and Republicans support."

A convention vote is held every 20 years and was last approved in 1967.

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