General Election Turnout Lowest In Decades

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

Last week’s General Election was historic for New York City in more ways than one, but one of those statistics is not a positive. The 2013 voter turnout for mayor was the lowest in at least six decades.

An election site in Forest Hills awaits voters during last week’s election, which had the lowest turnout in decades. Photo by Ira Cohen

An election site in Forest Hills awaits voters during last week’s election, which had the lowest turnout in decades. Photo by Ira Cohen

According to the Board of Elections’ website, only 1,026,169 New Yorkers voted for mayor in November’s General Election. The City has 4.3 million registered voters, meaning that only about 24 percent of those eligible voted in this year’s election. The BOE said those numbers are not final, as affidavits and absentee ballots have yet to be counted.

Many reasons have been suggested for the low turnout, from the one-sided nature of the polls in favor of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, to the increasing inconvenience of voting on a Tuesday.

“Voting is driven largely by the contest at the top of the ticket. When polls predict a lopsided election, the incentive is diminished,” Don Capalbi, the president of the Queensboro Hill Neighborhood Association, said. “To increase voter turnout, let’s try a Saturday election, and see what happens. The Saturday polls would be open late to accommodate Jewish voters. It deserves a try-out.”

In the last mayoral race, in 2009, only 28 percent of registered voters went to the voting booths. The mayoral elections have not topped 50 percent since 1993, when 1,898,437 out of the 3,301,683 registered New Yorkers voted to elect Rudy Giuliani to his first term.

In 1953, 93 percent of registered voters turned up on Election Day. That number of 2,244,146 is higher than those who voted in this year’s mayoral election, despite the number of registered voters doubling.

Since then, the number of voters has continued to drop. The ratio of voters compared to those registered to vote dropped below 50 percent for the first time in 1985, coming in at 41 percent.

“It has been steadily on a downward

. It’s very distressing. It’s bad for the City’s civic life,” New York Public Interest Research Group director Gene Russianoff said. “It’s a crisis for the State and they have to make it easier for people to vote.”

The BOE could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @Joey788.