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Declining major party enrollment numbers worry Onondaga County Elections Commissioners

All was quiet during early voting for the presidential primary at the Beauchamp Branch site Mar. 28, 2024.
Scott Willis
All was quiet during early voting for the presidential primary at the Beauchamp Branch site Mar. 28, 2024.

More voters in Onondaga County are shunning the two major political parties in favor of becoming part of the growing number of non-enrolled voters. Data from the board of elections show just before the presidential primary that there are more than 115,700 enrolled Democrats, 82,000 Republicans, and about 87,600 unenrolled voters. Democratic Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny says the party disengagement is a decades-long trend affecting both major parties.

“The non-enrolled segment is growing at a faster rate than the Democrats right now and it is something that I think both parties need to address," Czarny said. "But that being said, I think it's more of a more of an alarm for the Republican Party to have dropped into third place.  It’s not something that should be taken lightly.”

Czarny says during the Trump presidency, Democrats were gaining voters at the same pace as the non-enrolled category, though the exodus from the republican party has recently stabilized. Still, the loss of voters has GOP commissioner Michele Sardo very concerned.

“I'm trying to register, and I know my Republicans are out there trying to register Republicans," Sardo said. "But going through registration and verification that I've done, I see a lot of Republicans and Democrats going to not enrolled. They don't want to be involved in a party.” 

That might be a sign of voter frustration with the hyper-partisan political environment, especially over the past decade. Meanwhile, Onondaga County's enrolled Republicans and Democrats have one final chance Tuesday to cast their vote in New York’s presidential primary. Polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at