Bronx Voter Apathy On The Rise

Written By Roseanna Delgado

 
Lowest Voter turnout makes bleak history

 
During their campaign trails, mayoral candidates talk about making history. Speaker Quinn wanted to make history as the first woman mayor and also as the first openly gay.  Comptroller John Liu hoped to be the first Asian-American mayor.  Adolfo Carrion sought to be first Latino mayor of New York City.

 
History was made on November 5th 2013.  Brooklyn City Council member Letitia James became the first black woman elected to a citywide office in her victory race for Public Advocate.  Newly-elected mayor Bill DeBlasio made history as the first mayor with children attending public school.  DeBlasio also is first democratic in 20 years to win the office and first in 40 years from the outer boroughs.  Humorously Mayor Bill Deblasio at 6 foot 5 is the tallest man possibly in NYC history as mayor.

 
The bleak side of this eventful day was the measly 24 percent of 4.3 million registered voters making it the lowest turnout in more than half a century.  The Board of Elections released an unofficial count of 1,026,168 ballots cast in the city, 131,934 were from the Bronx County.  The previous low was in 2009 when 28% of registered voters turnout for the race between Mayor Bloomberg and Bill Thompson.   The Board of Elections official 2009 General Election count is 1,154,802 ballots cast in the city, 148,938 from the Bronx.

 
The dire consequences of voter apathy is that a minority rules since politicians seek out people who are likely to vote and policies are made by the will of this minority number of voters.  The Bronx, the unforgotten borough, has the worst turnout history in the city.  Several Bronx residents mentioned the system was corrupt and they don’t want the Bronx machine empowered with their votes.  Are Bronx residents cutting off their noses to spite their faces?

 
The Bronx democratic leaders have less leverage than other borough leaders at the bargaining table.  In fact the Bronx received less than 15 dollars in average per capita in discretionary funds compared to downtown Manhattan that received over hundreds of dollars in average per capita. Is destroying the system more effective than fixing it?  On the nation level, the New York Times recently reported that the Republican Party has declared war on the Senate Conservative Fund and the establishment blames this fund for destroying the Republican Party.

Many individuals and groups propose improvements in voting access such as early voting period, same day registration, and even Election Day held on weekend as remedies for the lack of voting participation.  However, despite the Board of Election’s history of mismanagement and incompetency, voter access to the poll is not the leading cause of voter apathy.    In my opinion and observation, these non-participating voters don’t feel they have a stake in the process and nothing to lose nor gain.  Let’s hope our new Mayor Bill DeBlasio addresses the issues important to the majority of NYC residents so they can have a stake at the table.  By doing so, perhaps Mayor Bill DeBlasio can win a reelection with the highest voter turnout in current history.  

 

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