While New York State receives national recognition for being many things, dead last in voter turnout could be one of our more embarrassing moments – and a trend that we have been creeping towards for the last two election cycles.
Despite contests for every statewide office for the first time in decades, a smaller share of eligible voters turned out two weeks ago in New York than in any other state.
In fact, New York’s turnout was lower than in any midterm election for at least three decades.
On the basis of unofficial returns, about 40 percent of registered New Yorkers voted on Nov. 2. But an analysis by the United States Election Project at George Mason University found that only 32.1 percent of the 13.4 million who were eligible — citizens 18 and older who are not convicted felons — actually voted.
New York ranked just below Texas and Utah. Minnesota, which recorded the highest turnout in the study at 55.4 percent, was one of six states where more than half the eligible population voted. New York ranked among the 10 lowest states for turnout in 2006 and 2008, but until this year it was not at the bottom.
How can we reverse it ? Issues like spending for healthcare and education, vacancy decontrol and same-sex marraige promises to be contentious issues in the months and years ahead. Our best chance is that these debates light a fire under those NYers that helped us become the “benchwarmer” state in 2010 and reverse it to become top of the pack in 2012.