Public Advocate Jumaane Williams cruised in his bid for a full term, and Melinda Katz easily won her race for Queens District Attorney Tuesday after a slow Election Day with dismal voter turnout.
New Yorkers trickled to the polls in an off-year election in which the biggest draw might have been a ballot question that proposed a change in the way local races are decided.
Voters approved a city charter change allowing voters in future elections to rank candidates and eliminate costly runoffs.
Under the newly-approved plan, which will begin in 2021, voters will list candidates by preference in case no one wins a clear majority.
Among the measures supporters was Williams, who was celebrating a victory on both fronts.”
"It’s a great validation,” said Williams, who won with 77% of the vote. "People came out and their voices were heard. Over the next two years we’re going to continue our work to reshape the city.
There is so much left to do.”
There is so much left to do.”
Williams, who defeated Staten Island City Councilman Joe Borelli, a Republican, won a special election last winter to replace Letitia James, who won election as state attorney general.
Also celebrating was Katz, who is currently Queens Borough President. Her general election road to the Queens DA seat was much easier than her primary election path, which ended in a court-battle win over insurgent Tiffany Caban.
“We are an unbelievable borough,” Katz said in her victory speech. “We all want a better life for our families than we had ever dreamed for ourselves. We need to make sure there is an infrastructure of support for our young people. Young people need to know it is safer not to pick up a gun than it is to pick up a gun.”
“We are facing here an opportunity to make a national model for criminal justice reform,” Katz added. “We need to make sure we get it right here”
Early voting apparently made little difference in shaking off the indifference of New York City voters.
The recent trend of remarkably low voter turnout in the five boroughs didn’t seem to get a boost from nine days of early voting, according to figures from the city’s Board of Elections. What started out on Oct. 26 only yielded a cumulative total of 60,110 voters by the time early voting closed on Nov. 3, the Board of Elections reported.
Less than 40% of registered voters in New York City participated in the 2018 midterm elections, and just 23% turned out 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 Queens County Democrats pre-election party on Oct. 29 and touted how easy it was for to vote himself.
“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, however, took the mayor’s advice, as the BOE data indicated.
Manhattan came in with the highest number of early ballots cast at 19,865, followed by Brooklyn at 17,976, Queens at 13,129, the Bronx with 4,893 and Staten Island garnering 4,247.
Those numbers are a far cry from the total number of active and inactive registered voters in the five boroughs, according to state Board of Elections data. The totals are as follows: Manhattan, 1,197,797; Bronx, 833,172; Brooklyn, 1,637,055; Queens, 1,282,887; and Staten Island, 319,473.
When analyzing the city and state data, amNewYork determined that only 1.14 percent of all registered New York City voters participated in early voting across all five boroughs this year.