Of the 3.8 million active New York City Democrats and Republicans who could have taken part in early voting ahead of Tuesday’s gubernatorial and Assembly primaries, just over 2% of them bothered to do so, according to figures from the city’s Board of Elections.
Through the nine-day voting period that concluded on Sunday, June 26, the Board of Elections reported a total of 86,890 voter check-ins at its 140 early voting sites — or roughly 2.2% of the 3,878,189 active New York City voters who could participate in the primary.
Manhattan and Brooklyn had the biggest bulk of early voters, the board noted, with the island getting 29,205 and the borough of Kings seeing 25,644 ballots cast. Queens checked in third with 17,157, followed by the Bronx with 10,045, and Staten Island bringing up the rear with 4,839.
Less than 10,000 people (9,654) across the Five Boroughs, on average, early voted on each of the nine days of the period. Manhattan early voting sites had an average daily turnout of 3,245, while Staten Island’s daily turnout stood at an anemic 538.
New Yorkers have one last chance to vote in the gubernatorial and Assembly primaries this Tuesday at their local polling sites. Voting hours are from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m.; visit vote.nyc to find your local polling place.
The 86,890 June primary early voters were a far cry from the more than 1 million early voters who participated in the 2020 presidential election in New York City — an all-time record since early voting began in 2019.
The 2020 election, of course, occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and a hotly-contested presidential campaign. Since then, COVID-19 restrictions have eased, society has opened back up in full — and the president’s not on the ballot this year, at least in name.
Still, Tuesday’s primary is of utmost importance in shaping the November election. Whoever wins both gubernatorial contests will be at the top of the ballots this fall, and those nominees would likely influence the downballot elections such as Assembly, state Senate and Congress.
Redistricting threw a wrinkle into this year’s primary elections, which wound up being split after a New York state judge ruled that previously approved Congressional and state Senate district maps did not meet constitutional standards.
Both maps were redrawn, and the primary contests for those races were pushed back to Aug. 23 — meaning that New Yorkers will have to vote again this summer to complete the general election ballot.
That change will likely tamp down voter turnout in both elections, according to Betsy Gotbaum, the former public advocate and current executive director of the good government group Citizens Union.
“This has contributed to voter confusion,” Gotbaum told amNewYork Metro. “Citizens Union advocated for postponing the primaries scheduled for this week and holding them all in August to make it easier for voters to participate.”
Gotbaum believes that the city’s Board of Elections ought to clear another hurdle before voters by allowing voters to cast their ballots at any early voting site in their borough. Although state law mandates such a set up, she noted, that the city’s Board of Elections has yet to comply with this requirement.”
“With that being said, early voting isn’t meant to replace election day voting. It is about giving New Yorkers another choice and making voting more convenient,” Gotbaum added. “This is a consequential gubernatorial election for both parties. We encourage everyone to go out and vote.”
But considering that the June primary, which happened at the end of the school year, saw an abysmal early voting turnout, it could mean that the August primary — held at a time when school is out and many New Yorkers are on vacation — might seen even less early voting participation.