New Yorkers turnout in modest numbers for early voting

Prospect Heights resident Carol Steuer voted for Eric Adams.
Photo by Dean Moses

New Yorkers went to the polls over the weekend for the first days of early voting in the city’s general election — and as expected, the turnout wasn’t at the fever pitch the city experienced during last year’s presidential race.

Voting locations opened Saturday morning, Oct. 23, and despite many races being effectively decided in the June primary due to Democrats far outnumbering Republicans in the Five Boroughs, residents still came out to do their civic duty.

“Voting is so important. For so long in particular African Americans didn’t have the right vote, so that’s why I vote,” said Carole, who is Black, after casting her ballot at the Brooklyn Museum on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 24. “I try to never miss an election.”

The cultural institution on Eastern Parkway saw only a slow trickle of people coming to vote for city elected officials.

“It’s empty,” said another Prospect Heights resident, Carol Steuer, after voting.

A preliminary count by the city Board of Elections logged 15,418 ballots cast on the first day of early voting, Oct. 23, slightly below the June primary, when 16,867 people came to the polls on opening day.

Both numbers pale in comparison to the 2020 general election, when 93,830 came out on the first day of early voting — six times more than this time around — and lines of voters ran for blocks out of the poll sites.

The high turnout last year was undoubtedly boosted by the presidential race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, drawing in more voters than municipal contests.

This year, New Yorkers can decide on citywide offices like the mayor, comptroller, and public advocate, along with city council seats, judges, and five ballot proposals.

In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly eight to one, primary votes largely decide who will win the election on Nov. 2, except for some City Council races in a handful of swing districts in southern Brooklyn, southern Queens, and Staten Island.

Voters who put their support behind Democratic nominee Eric Adams — some reluctantly after having voted for other Democratic candidates in the primary — said they wanted to get him over the finish line against Republican Curtis Sliwa, the leader of the Guardian Angels.

“I don’t like him at all but he’s the only one,” said Steuer, who previously supported Maya Wiley. “He’s too closely tied to the police and to the real estate industry, [but] I would never vote for Curtis Sliwa.”

In Downtown Brooklyn, a couple of voters who previously supported former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said they were optimistic that Adams will be an improvement compared to outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Our main issue is severe disappointment with our current mayor, whom we voted for, and I think Eric will do a good job,” said Katharine Darrow as she left the poll site in New York City College of Technology on Jay Street.

Darrow’s husband Peter was happy to see Garcia ascend to a senior position in Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration when she was appointed as director of state operations in September.

“Having somebody up there that’s as able as she is is a good thing, so we’re pleased with that,” he said.

Early voting ends Sunday, Oct. 31, and registered voters can apply in person for an absentee ballot until Nov. 1. Election Day follows on Nov. 2, which is also the deadline for sending a mail-in ballot postmarked on that day.

A version of this story first appeared on amNewYork.