Jun. 19, 2023 By Gabriele Holtermann
New York City’s turnout thus far has been low with just over 15,000 voters heading to the polls this past weekend, excluding Staten Island, which does not have a primary election this cycle.
Though turnout throughout the city has been abysmal, Queens had the highest two-day turnout with 4,694 voters, according to early voting check-in data from the city’s Board of Elections. Brooklyn was not far behind, with 4,080 voters turning out. Manhattan saw 3,900 voters over the first two days of early voting, while the Bronx had only 3,075 voters tallied.
One of the early voting sites in Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria, covers two city council districts.
District 22, represented by incumbent Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán, who faces challenger Charles Castro, and District 26, represented by incumbent Councilwoman Julie Won, who faces challenger Hailie Kim.
According to poll workers at the site, people were coming in “in dribs and drabs,” and 40-50 voters had cast their votes as of Sunday afternoon.
“I would say most people start coming in around like the fourth or fifth day [of early voting], weirdly enough,” a poll worker shared with QNS. “You would think most people would come in on the weekends, but weirdly enough, they come in during the weekday right after work.”
Voters Ben Miller and Rashmi Singh live in Woodside and took advantage of early voting.
“I’m dedicated to the voting process and I want to make sure I can’t possibly miss a voting opportunity,” Miller said.
Rashmi Singh said early voting made it much easier to cast the ballot than on the actual voting day.
“Often, there are long lines. People have to get to work. There’s bad weather,” Singh said.”I feel like this becomes like, ‘hey, let’s go vote and have brunch after.’ So it becomes like a nice activity and I appreciate having that option.”
Hailie Kim stopped by her campaign table outside MoMI and said her campaign was focused on everything it had to do to defeat Won.
“But it appears it’s going well,” said Kim, who shared that the response from potential voters had been “decent.”
Regarding the low voter turnout at the MoMI polling site, Kim said her campaign had theorized that it could be a low voter turnout even though only two candidates were on the ballot.
In a statement to QNS, Won said low voter turnout in early voting over the weekend was likely due to voters celebrating Father’s Day and Juneteenth — and the great weather.
“I expect most of my neighbors will be voting on Primary Day since their polling locations are much closer to where they live,” Won said, adding that most voters she’d spoken to were overwhelmingly supportive of her work while serving on the City Council and that she expected “a landslide victory on Primary Day.”
Voter turnout didn’t look any more promising at the Boys’ Club of New York in Flushing, an early voting site for District 19, which covers Auburndale, Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, College Point, Douglaston, Flushing, Little Neck, Malba and Whitestone.
Three Democratic candidates are running in the primary for City Council; former state Senator Tony Avella, former Queens prosecutor Christopher Bae and Paul Graziano. The winner of that race will face off against Republican incumbent City Councilwoman Vickie Paladino in the general election on Nov. 7.
According to poll workers, 80 voters voted at the site on Saturday, plus an additional 14 as of 3 p.m. on Sunday. But they also suspected that Father’s Day and the Juneteenth holiday played a role in the low turnout.
One poll worker proudly declared that the “World’s Borough” had the highest voter turnout of all the boroughs on Saturday, with over 1600 voters.
“Remember, we beat all the boroughs yesterday. Queens was the highest in early voting,” the poll worker said.
Early voting will continue through June 25 at early voting sites across New York City and all regular polling places will be open on Primary Day, Tuesday, June 27, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.