What’s the first election that you remember? Did you cast a vote by filling out a paper ballot, then sliding it into a slit cut, into a decorated shoe box? Or maybe going behind a curtain, where you had to pull a giant lever to reveal the ballot, flip a metal switch for your candidate, then pull the giant lever back to “count” the vote?
Nowadays, voting is more sophisticated, but the leader of the free world ranks one of lowest around the globe in voter turnout. Lagging far behind Turkey, Australia, Sweden, Israel and others, United States voter turnout was 62% in 2020. And that was the highest it had been since 1960, the year that Kennedy defeated Nixon. In fact, to keep pace with many countries in voter turn out now, we’d have to go back to 1876, an election whose results have always been in question. Rutherford B. Hayes became POTUS, but the deal that put him in the White House, cost the country post-Civil War Reconstruction. White supremacy won, and we all know how that turned out.
Turn out for local elections is even worse. In 2013, the last time we elected a new Mayor, Borough Presidents, Comptroller, and many City Council members, the turnout was only 24%. The last time that more than half of New York voters turned out for a Mayor’s race was in 1993, when Dinkins defeated Guliani. It’s hard not to think about how much we regular people could have done, had we taken the chance to cast our votes, to elect the leaders that could make real change.
Sure they make it hard to vote. Voter suppression remains the strongest hammer in the power-hoarding toolbox. Improving the Board of Elections is a must for a better way of life for mothers, students, seniors, disabled, communities of color, and immigrants. However, we must vote whenever we get a chance. Here are some important elections coming up (hint: they aren’t all about the Mayor):
April 5-14, 2021: Participatory Budgeting for City Council district projects. Casting your vote to pay for projects that make a difference in your neighborhood. Click here to see if your district offers this (and if now, how you get it to).
May 1-11, 2021: Community Education Council Elections (public school districts, citywide councils). Public school parents are eligible to run, but you have to apply by Feb 28, 2021, so learn more here. This is NYC’s version of the local school board and a way for you to help govern our educational system.
June 22, 2021: Primary Day for NYC elections (more information on Ranked Choice Voting coming soon). Today, Feb 15, 2021 is the final day to change your party affiliation, so click here for steps if needed.
Late Spring-Fall: Public school PA/PTA and SLT elections. If you are a parent, please get involved in your child’s school by voting in the elections that help the Principal make decisions. Speak to your Parent Coordinator or current leadership for more information about your school’s timing.
Lastly, I am fighting for us to have a stronger voice in our city. That’s WHY it’s so important to elect me this year! No candidate for Mayor and no other candidate for Manhattan Borough President is pushing for us, for regular New Yorkers, to have a real say in our future.
- My plan to change the governance structure of NYC schools would strengthen our school system by giving parents and other stakeholders a voice. The largest school system in the country needs a strong central administration but NOT one that harms students because only the Mayor’s voice counts. Common sense checks and balances are critical if we are to serve all students, teachers, nurses, staff and parents.
- My idea to elect Community Board members – not all but some – gives you a say in how decisions are being made in your neighborhood. A lot of the power of the Borough Presidency is derived by the vast number of appointments it makes. I want to give power back to you so that you have a stake in the future of our city.
Casting votes is not the answer to all of our problems in our city, but civic participation, civic opportunity is the best way to fertilize the democratic ground. By expressing your voice through vote, you can help make change possible.