The Blue Wave Hits: Ulster County Democratic Registry Spikes

According to the Ulster County Board of Elections (UCBE), the Democratic voter registration has blossomed over the past four years while Republican numbers have remained stagnant.  

On Oct. 19,  the UCBE released a statement that showed an additional 8,000 voters were registered as Democrats. Their statistics suggest that since January, 4,386 new voters have registered as Democrat, 2,286 as Independent, 996 have registered as Republican and 560 have registered with a third party. 

These statistics also show that women tend to register as Democrats, while men are more likely to register as Republicans. 

Thomas F. Turco, the Republican election commissioner of the Ulster County Board of Elections, attributes the stagnant rate of Republican registrations to the lack of private sector industries in Ulster County. 

“There has [to be] something for them to be here,” Turco said. “I don’t see that anymore in Ulster County.”

Democratic Election Commissioner of the Ulster County Board of Elections, Ashley Dittus, believes that one of the reasons for this increase of registered Democrats is the fact that the State of New York has closed primaries.

 “Since 2016 when we had the presidential primary between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, we have seen an uptick in people choosing to be enrolled in the Democratic party,” Dittus said. 

She claimed that people want to participate in the primaries so that they can choose a candidate for the party that their ideals align with the most. 

Individuals who identify as progressive but still choose to enroll as Independent or to enroll in a third party such as the Working Families Party or the Green Party, are ineligible to vote in the primaries, which promotes people to register as either Democrat or Republican. 

Turco claims that the influx of Democrats comes from New York City. He described a movement of urban Democrats registering in Ulster County, where they may have second homes or vacation homes. 

“It helps them politically to register where their second homes are or their vacation homes are so that’s why I think the rates of Democrats [are up] in Ulster County,” Turco said.

Turco also noted that about 20 to 25 percent of absentee ballots are sent from Ulster County to New York City.

Another reason for the jump in newly registered Democrats is due to an overall dissatisfaction with the national political climate.  

“They are looking at the Democratic party as maybe being a check on the president or a check on the Senate and Congress,” Dittus said. “I think that’s motivating them to enroll as Democrats.”