COVID-19 Pandemic New York City/State Voting Presidential Primaries

Despite COVID, June 23rd Primary Vote Will Exceed 2018 Governor Democratic Primary Turnout in NYC

The New York City Board of Elections reported on Thursday evening, July 2nd, that 384,000 ballots had been counted as returned for the Democratic primary on June 23rd, out of 767,000 sent out. With the in-person tally on the day of the primary around 500,000, this means that the tally of the two combined, 884,000, should exceed the 855,000 votes in the City in 2018 in the primary between Governor Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon. That primary was only exceeded in recent history by the 2016 Presidential Democratic primary between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, where the turnout totaled just under 1 million in New York City.

New York 230,717 126,062 55%
Bronx 99,135 42,620 43%
Brooklyn 230,513 116,542 51%
Queens 182,064 85,763 47%
Staten Island 24,978 13,044 52%
TOTAL 767,407 384,031 50%
* Both previous and current numbers are unofficial
and subject to change

It’s not clear if the absentee ballot return count is the final sum of these ballots or whether there are still more to be counted. Such ballots have to be opened and verified as valid by the Board of Elections, and are subject to challenges by candidates. But the raw count of the ballots, when added to the in-person turnout, exceeds the September 2018 gubernatorial primary.

There are many anecdotal reports of persons who sent in applications but never received ballots. The Board of Elections does not have the kind of tracking systems for ballots that have been established in states with extensive experience in mass vote-by-mail systems. Many improvements need to be made to strengthen vote by mail in New York.  The State Constitution provides that voters must have a reason to vote by absentee and traditionally absentee ballots have only been a small portion of the in-person vote.

Jim Brennan was a member of the New York State Assembly for 32 years and retired at the end of 2016. He chaired four committees, including the Assembly Committee on Corporations, Authorities, and Commissions for six years, the Committee on Cities for five years, and the Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities for six years. There are 96 Brennan laws on the books of the State of New York and Jim won three national awards for his legislative work during his career.

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