When New Yorkers return from their Labor Day excursions next week, they will endure one last sprint of heavy campaigning from the host of mayoral candidates who are vying to top the Republican and Democrat tickets in the November elections.
Despite the rush of activity from the candidates, New Yorkers appear less than poised to participate in the primary campaign. In 2009, the Democratic primary turnout was the lowest in modern New York City history with only 11 percent of enrolled casting their ballots.
This low turnout rate is particularly alarming because it means the 2013 election will most likely be decided on September 10 (or perhaps in a runoff on October 1 if no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote). The Democrat who wins the primary is expected to be the next mayor. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by almost seven to one in the city.
Rudy Guiliani and Bloomberg were exceptions with each running on particular issues: crime and the economy, respectively. With no Republican matching the same stature or issue specificity this year, the Democratic primary holds specific significance within a crowded field of contenders.
As New Yorker writer Ken Auletta explains, Bloomberg’s successor will be chosen by only the 500,000 to 700,000 voters who pick the winner of the Democratic primary — which equates to roughly ten percent of the city’s five million voters.For the first time in 24 years, New York City will not have a general election
“For the first time in twenty-four years, New York City will not have a general election,” Auletta reports.
New York City is the biggest city in the United States and its laws govern not only a large population, but have an outsized influence of the important financial sector and business community.
The abysmal voter turnout and antiquated election laws that only allow registered party members to vote highlights the dangers of the electoral system in the city that this year, maybe more than any in recent history, begs for reform.