An unpromising start

An election worker answers questions on a ranked choice voting ballot during early voting in the primary election, Monday, June 14, 2021, at the Church of St. Anthony of Padua in the Soho neighborhood of New York.
Associated Press/Mary Altaffer

When early voting polling places across New York City opened on Oct. 24, 2020 for the first voters in the presidential election, they saw a massive turnout — more than 93,000 people across the five boroughs on the first day.

But on June 12, 2021, the first day of early voting in the all-important Democratic primary for mayor, just 16,867 people showed up to vote  — still a good number for a beautiful Saturday in June, but just 17% of the turnout seen on Oct. 24, 2020.
It’s a bad sign that the voter interest in this election — focused primarily on city government — is nothing close to last year’s heated presidential contest.
We’ve said it before, and it bears repeating: The local elections matter, too — and, in many respects, the people elected to represent us at City Hall and Gracie Mansion have a far greater impact on our everyday lives than those working in Albany or Washington, DC.
We’re about to select a new mayor to lead the city out of the worst health crisis in a century which devastated our economy.

The mayor, among other responsibilities, oversees the NYPD and the public school system — and will choose a police commissioner and a schools chancellor reflecting their priorities and reshaping how our streets are protected, and our children are educated.

All but a handful of City Council seats are up for grabs in this election. They will elect a new speaker who will hold great influence in city government, working with the mayor to shape budgets and enact new policy.

They will also be tasked with handling land use issues and passing new regulations which will impact every New Yorker almost on a block-by-block level.

And in this city where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by more than a 3-1 margin, the winners of the June 22 primaries are almost certain to win their seats in the November general election.

If you were passionate about voting last November and were willing to stand in line to cast your ballot, you ought to do the same in the week ahead — because this primary matters just as much to the life of our city.

To the victors belong the spoils — but to the apathetic non-voters belong the silent shame from refusing to make their voices heard when they had the chance.

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