PRIMARY DAY: Turnout light as New Yorkers asked to pick Democratic, Republican candidates for governor

A primary voter reviewing ballot
FILE – A primary voter reviews a ballot
File photo/Dean Moses

All morning long Tuesday, New York City voters have filed into their polling places to cast their Primary Day ballots in the gubernatorial and Assembly races — though there are few reports of any long lines or mechanical difficulties.

The June 28 Primary Day began bright and early at 6 a.m., when all 14,000 polls across the Five Boroughs opened, with voters trickling in to make their choices of nominees for the November general election.

James Coclin arrived Tuesday morning to vote at The School of Visual Arts on the East Side, having recently registered as a Democrat after previously being an independent voter because he felt his voice was not being heard during the primaries. Coclin believes that the primaries help dictate the outcome of the general election, so he made sure to register for a party.

“I’ve always been a registered independent and when I did my driver’s license, I just registered as a Democrat so I could actually have an influence in the primary. I feel like I’m always just voting in the general election. That’s what made me actually come to the vote in the primary,” Coclin said.

The governor’s race is the biggest name on the ballot for Coclin. On the Democratic side, incumbent Kathy Hochul is looking to fend off challenges from Long Island Congressman Tom Suozzi and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

“Especially in the primary in New York that’s where you really have influence I think, if you vote in the primary versus a lot of times, we know how the general is gonna go. So, if you really want to have you say it’s probably better to vote in the primary,” Coclin said.

Photo by Dean Moses
Voters at the School of Visual ArtsPhoto by Dean Moses
Photo by Dean Moses

Not every primary interests Sara Williamson, but they felt that if they are going to be encouraging others to vote then it’s important to set that example. Williamson has been assisting with the Illapa Sairitupac, who is running for State Assembly in the Lower East Side and East Village.

“I just really felt like I can’t be out on the streets asking people to vote in that election if I didn’t come and vote in my own election. I am really looking forward to the next race that’s coming up the Democratic primary for a state senate on Aug. 23. So, I’ll definitely be back out voting for that as well,” Williamson said.

When it comes to policy, Williamson is voting for those who fight for climate change and renewable energy, as well as backers of Good Cause Eviction.

“We had a pretty devastating loss in the state legislature recently with the bill public renewables act that came very, very close to passing, but they weren’t willing to bring it to a full vote,” Williamson said. “I’m really interested in electing more people who are going to build renewable energy for New Yorkers and fight climate change. I’m also really interested in a Good Cause Eviction bill that will help keep more New Yorkers in their apartments and off of the streets. It’s super important. We just need more like loud vocal advocates in the legislature for that.”

This election seemed particularly poignant to many of the participating voters, with several individuals citing recent Supreme Court rulings.

“A major reason I think it is so important to get out and vote, especially now, is that a lot of our government is taking advantage of maybe the fatigue people have after the pandemic and with our economy,” said one voter, Gavin, at St. Anthony of Padua Church in the Village. “Like if we don’t show up and continue to demand our rights and rights for people who can’t really advocate for themselves, we are going to have more things like Roe v. Wade happening.”

This sentiment was echoed by several other voters at the location, who also said their decision to vote Tuesday was motivated by what they perceived to be problems within the government and within the country.

“I am someone who works very closely with children and with afterschool programs, and I just really can’t believe the budget was cut like this,” said another voter Delaney in reference to the recent NYC education budget cuts. “I just started working in this field but even before the city made these cuts we were suffering. It doesn’t take a genius to know that if we keep kids engaged and uplift them with tons of resources, they will do better and succeed. And if we do this they are less likely to miss out on opportunities or even participate in illegal [activities]. I decided to vote for Jumaane Williams because I feel like he would do the most and be the most motivated to actually reverse some of these decisions and help children.”

The same low turnout could be seen at polling sites in Queens on Primary Day morning.

Stephanie Chauncey, a Queensbridge resident and coordinator at the PS 78 voting site, said that she was alarmed by the lack of early voting.

“This is your community. Have a voice,” Chauncey said. “Have a voice for your children, [and] for the seniors if you feel some type of way. We need to be out here — our lives depend on it.”

Chauncey mentioned gun violence as one of the many issues that concerns her locally.

The polls are open until 9 p.m. tonight; if you happen to get to your polling site just before 9 p.m. and there’s a line, stay on it so you can vote.

Results from the city’s Board of Elections are expected to be announced shortly after the polls close. Stay with amNY.com for further updates.