Op-Ed: What We Can Learn From Greenpoint’s Low Voter Turnout
I recently had my first experience as a poll worker right here at the Greenpoint McGuinness Senior Center polling site (715 Leonard St). There was a lot that I enjoyed, and I encourage others to be a poll-worker some day. It is democracy in action.
Unfortunately, my patriotic glow dimmed the next day, when I woke to discover our district had posted some of the worst voter turnout in the city, 18.8%. Having grown up in California where 40% voter turnout is considered low, I began to wonder why New York’s turnout is even lower.
The answer is partly to do with voters not making it to the polls, and partly to do with barriers to access. How is that? California is one of 27 states that allows mail-in ballots, among other reforms intended to make voting more accessible for working people, people with families, etc. In California, more than 50% of all voters are casting their ballots by mail.
Here in NYC, a city of 10 million+ people, 1.09 million voters made it to the physical polls in November, which is 1 in 5 eligible voters. Now imagine if the state of New York allowed us to mail in ballots. That could potentially have meant 1 million+ more people voting in NYC. That is a lot of people!
Being an active citizen is like flexing a muscle, and voting is the foundation of this strength. There are things we can do to get ready for our next election in 2018.
- Check your voting status and make sure you are ready, registered and eligible to vote
- Support voting reform legislation for our state, which is badly needed to solve the crisis of voter participation
- Get to know your state elected officials & follow them on social media
- Consider getting involved in a party club or advocacy group to learn more about key issues and races
Your vote is your power. Commit to casting your vote every time.
—Tara Suan, Greenpoint resident and voting enthusiast
The next meeting for North Brooklyn Active Citizens / ACLU People Power / Let People Vote Call to Action is on Saturday, December 2nd at 2pm at Black Rabbit (91 Greenpoint Ave). Please join if you want to learn more about voting reforms and what people are doing to learn more about it.