Tuesday’s general election had one of the worst turnouts at the polls in the city’s history.
Preliminary figures from the city’s board of elections show that only 956,077 people cast a vote for governor. This is the first time since at least 1953, that fewer than a million New Yorkers hvoted, according to the BOE.Some civic engagement groups are troubled by the poor turnout.
“The less people turn out the less accountable those politicians feel to the public at large,” said Neal Rosenstein, government reform coordinator at the New York Public Interest Research Group “That is a danger to democracy.”
By comparison, 1.4 million New Yorkers went to the polls during the last governor’s election in 2010.
There are roughly 4.3 million registered voters in the five boroughs.
Rosenstein said there were a collection of reasons behind the low turnout including the lack of enthusiasm for most of the races. Gov. Andrew Cuomo was a clear front-runner from the outset and the other state races in the five boroughs either had unopposed candidates or unexciting campaigns, according to Rosenstein.
“There was very little to stir up interest here in New York,” he said.
Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause New York, agreed and pushed for changes in campaign finance and election law to allow for more competitive races. She noted that such initiatives won’t bring New York voters out of their disinterested state but it would improve civic engagement.
“This problem is going to get worse so long as the political parties have a stranglehold on the process,” she said.