Early voting apparently made little difference in shaking off the indifference of New York City voters during the 2019 elections.
The recent trend of remarkably low voter turnout in the five boroughs continued this year, despite the addition of nine days of early voting — which yielded only a cumulative total of 60,110 voters between Oct. 26 and Nov. 3, according to figures from the city’s Board of Elections.
With less than 40% of registered city voters participating in the 2018 midterm elections, and just 23% for the 2017 mayoral elections, early voting is expected to help reverse the downward trend in voter turnout in the years to come.
But the program didn’t appear to make a positive impact on the 2019 race, and some recognized early on that the rollout of early voting was not without its flaws.
Mayor Bill de Blasio had called the state legislation to adopt early voting “a chance for us to reinvigorate our democracy,” at a pre-election party on Oct. 29, where he touted how easy the process was.
“I glided into my poll site in Brooklyn and I was out of there in like, five minutes, and it is going to open up a world of opportunity where a lot of people previously thought that voting was not something that they could focus on or take time for, now they’re going to have every opportunity, weekends and weekdays and all sorts of different times when they can vote,” de Blasio said.
Few New Yorkers took the mayor’s advice, however.
Just 17,975 Brooklynites took advantage of the widened voting period — a far cry from the 833,172 registered voters in the borough, according to the Board of Elections.
A recent analysis determined that only 1.14 percent of all registered voters citywide participated in early voting.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D—Greenpoint) complained that the 33 early-voting polling sites were not enough to make proper use of the system’s convenience — likening the lack of polling locations to voter suppression.
For New Yorkers, the races on the ballot may not have been much of a draw.
The race for public advocate was — correctly — assumed by many to go to incumbent Jumaane Williams, who had first won the seat in February over 16 other candidates in the special election and made away with 33 percent of the vote.
The ballot also included five referendums to the City Charter on topics such as ranked-choice voting, expanding the powers of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and extending the timeframe of the Uniform Land Use Review Process — all of which passed with healthy margins after the voter period ended on Tuesday night.
This story first appeared in amNewYork.