By Ed Hersh
The candidates and their representatives are out in force looking for last-minute votes, as registered Democrats go to the polls today for the second time this summer.
In this round of a two-part primary (the first was June 23rd), Democrats will choose candidates for U.S. Congress and State Senate in newly redistricted areas of the city, including the Upper West Side.
The most closely watched UWS race pits longtime allies Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler against each other in the new 12th Congressional District. Today’s vote will also pick a Democratic candidate for the newly redrawn 47th State Senate District.
The candidates and political experts agree that turnout, absentee ballots, and the results of early voting are likely to be key factors in the race, but they are hard to predict given the unusual circumstances. In Manhattan, early voting leading up to today’s Part II was greater than early voting leading up to Part I, perhaps signaling heightened interest in these races, according to NY1.
WSR visited several polling sites on the UWS between 8AM and 9AM — a busy time on most election days — and while turnout seemed light, there was a steady stream of voters entering. Veteran poll workers we spoke to agreed.
One voter leaving an UWS polling place — an attorney who says she follows politics closely — thinks lack of awareness of this second primary– and even of the fact of redistricting — are the biggest obstacles to turnout. “I’m obsessed,” she says, but she’s been surprised to learn that “people who normally vote are unaware.”
WSR ran into Maria Danzilo greeting voters and volunteers on Columbus Ave near 85th Street. She’s challenging Brad Hoylman for the State Senator nomination in the newly-drawn 47th district, which stretches from the Upper West Side south through Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea. She observed that the voters who did show up early this morning were those who had to be out early — “dog walkers and health-care workers” — and that many others might be on vacation or have voted early.
Both Maloney and Nadler have devoted significant resources to targeting NYC voters who are away in the Hamptons, for example, first urging absentee ballots and now imploring them to return home to vote, as reported earlier this week in The New York Times.
Suraj Patel, who is challenging Maloney and Nadler, says he’s encouraged by early voting in Manhattan and today’s turnout so far. We met him this morning campaigning not far from a polling place on Amsterdam Avenue, and he was upbeat. “Not everyone has a house in the Hamptons to go to,” he said. “I think turnout is going to blow up.”
Poll watchers told us they expect a surge of voters after 5pm. Polls are open until 9PM.
If you voted today, what was your experience? Share in the comments.