Only 13% of voters in Manhattan returned absentee ballots before June 23

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Photo by Todd Maisel

With over 229,806 absentee ballots distributed in Manhattan alone for the Democratic presidential primary, preliminary data from the New York City Board of Elections show that it received back only 31,273, 13%, as of Tuesday night.

While ballots postmarked for election day may still be flowing in over the coming days prior to the June 30 cutoff, the other four boroughs have fallen into step with this trend. Absentee ballots were distributed widely by the state over fears of not only low voter turnout because of the primaries but also the coronavirus.

In the Bronx, 99,026 absentees were mailed out, but only 7,410 came back to the BOE on election day. In Brooklyn, 229,670 were sent out compared to the 5,869 that were tallied. Queens possibly had the highest turnout by percentage in the five boroughs with 181,828 total absentees and 41,171 returned.

But bring Staten Island into the mix with 24,701 total and 7,102 returned and you get 34% turnout for absentee ballots alone.

Early in the day amNewYork Metro heard from voters at various locations across the city that while some had filed for absentees which were never delivered and some filled out the ballot at home and had to go into a polling site anyway because they filled it out wrong.

But even the polls themselves were seeing slightly less action than usual.

At I.S. 70 in Chelsea, only about 20 people had come to the location by 9 a.m., three hours after the site had opened, according to the coordinator. By 11:30 at P.S. 41 in the Village, 257 people had cast in-person ballots.

The broader question of whether or not New York City’s historically low voter turnout – city Comptroller Scott Stringer placed it at about 25% for the 2014 midterm elections – or more of the inveterate disfunction known to be common with the BOE after 117,000 voter rolls were purged in 2016.