New Yorkers Too Busy Enjoying Summer to Vote in Primary

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 26: A campaign volunteer stands outside of the Harlem campaign office of Congressman Charles Rangel on June 26, 2012 in New York City. After more than four decades as a congressman, Rangel is fighting for the Democratic nomination in a newly redrawn congressional district that is no longer dominated by African Americans. The 82-year-old Rangel is locked in a race Tuesday for the nomination in his Harlem-area district with New York state Sen. Adriano Espaillat. Espaillat, a 57-year-old Dominican-American, has enjoyed growing popularity in a district that now has more Latino-Americans than African-Americans. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
“Did Charlie Rangel ask us to do something today?” “I don’t know, let’s go to the park.” Photo: Spencer Platt/2012 Getty Images

Even races involving a colorful, scandal-prone, 21-term congressman and a candidate who listed Muammar Qaddafi and Robert Mugabe as his “heroes” couldn’t pique New York’s interest in Tuesday’s primaries. Sure, voters might have turned out if the election was still in the fall, but we only have a few warm days to get outside and enjoy not participating in the electoral process.

While New York has traditionally held primaries in September, this year the congressional primary was pushed to June to give military voters time to return their general election ballots. Though the move might have been well-intentioned, it resulted in extremely low turnout across the state.

The New York Times reports that for the most contentious House primaries in the city, only about 12 to 14 percent of registered Democrats voted. 39,000 people cast ballots in the high-profile race that ended in Representative Charlie Rangel securing his shot at a 22nd term in the House. That sounds like a lot, until you learn that there are 282,000 Democrats in the district.

The situation was even more dismal for Republicans. Only about 5 percent voted in the statewide primary that puts Wendy Long on the ballot opposite Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in November. In comparison, Mitt Romney was able to spur 7 percent of registered Republicans to vote in April’s primary, even though he’d already secured the nomination. Looks like a spokesman for congressional candidate Grace Meng, who won her race, was right:  “Folks don’t vote in June.”

New Yorkers Too Busy Enjoying Summer to Vote