The NYC Board of Elections (BOE) wrapped day three of early voting on Monday tweeting out it’s unofficial and cumulative count. So far there have been 43,720 people who have voted with the majority of them concentrated in Manhattan and Brooklyn with hopes that that number will only go up in the week left until Election Day.

According to New York State enrollment records, there are just over 3.3 million active Democrats and 501,848 active Republicans in the city. Those figures, coupled with other parties, comprise roughly 4.9 million registered voters in New York City currently. 

Campaign Finance Board (CFB) reports indicate that registration rates are generally high in the city, but the problem is that voters don’t show up to vote enough, especially among immigrants and young adults aged from 18 to 29.

In 2019’s general election, of total actual voters, or people who did vote versus those who have only registered, there were about 7.6% who voted early. And of course 2020’s presidential race, and mitigating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, pushed overwhelming amounts of voters to vote by absentee ballot or by mail in both the primary and general election. 

Early voting jumped in the general election to 36.3% in 2020 despite the circumstances, said the CFB reports.

The good news is that the outright fear that gripped the city, and by extension the globe, during last year’s elections because of the COVID-19 outbreak was hardly seen this past weekend as the streets were alight with either masked up or likely vaccinated voters, music, paraders, and yes, even some rallying cries and protesters. 

On the first day of early voting on Saturday, June 12, there seemed to be two main focuses among elected officials and candidates for office alike, which was getting people to the polls and making sure they knew how to handle ranked choice voting when they got there.

Even Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mock ranked choice pizza topping election, a fun ploy to get residents used to ranking their votes, could not completely dispel the confusion over the new voting system.

“Ranked choice is the law of the land and there’s some folks who are not okay with it or skeptic about it, but it’s the law and when you go to vote you’re going to have the opportunity to rank five choices so you may as well take advantage of it. And make sure you figure out how it works before you get to the poll site,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn) in the Mayor’s briefing on Tuesday, June 15.

Staten Island Borough President candidate Brandon Stradford, who made history by being the first Black Democrat candidate on the ballot in a usually Republican dominant race, said that it seems to him that unilaterally people aren’t receiving ranked choice voting very well.

“It’s kind of mixed. I wouldn’t say that enough people have a real good grasp on it,” said Stradford about voting on Staten Island. “I don’t think that enough public education was provided on it.”

From Congress, U.S. Representatives like Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), Jerry Nadler (NY-10), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Grace Meng (NY-06), and Ritchie Torres (NY-15) put out a joint statement about voters’ lack of understanding at the polls.

“Under the ranked-choice voting system, voters can exercise additional influence on the final outcome by ranking multiple candidates, ensuring that their vote is still impactful even if their first-choice candidate is not ultimately successful,” they said.

Congress members urged people to fully participate in the election process by ranking all five candidates while pleading with the BOE to help educate more voters. 

“We urge the Board of Elections and other municipal authorities to intensify its ranked-choice voting public education campaign, particularly in traditionally underserved communities,” they said.

The State Senate has also narrowed their focus on easing the way for voters to vote with the Make Voting Easy Act or S.4306-b, which would increase the number of early voting poll sites across the state, and S.1027-a, which starts the count process for valid absentee ballots at 8 p.m. on election night.

“Our State Senate has come a long way towards reforming New York’s election laws, but there is more to do,” said Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris. “These bills will dramatically reduce the long Early Voting lines we experienced last year and ensure we won’t have to wait weeks on end to discover who wins an election.”

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