«Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting».
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Approaching the topic of campaigns and elections, I am convinced 2016 was a crucial year for the history of the United States of America, and for the whole world: the Presidential election took place on November 8th 2016 and has had major implications not only at the domestic level, but also in the international scenario.
Not even a year after that significant date, New York City has been preparing for the Democratic primaries, which took place on Tuesday September 12th. On a sunny, warm day New Yorkers headed to the polls to vote for Mayor, City Council Borough President, Brooklyn District Attorney and more. The winners in the primaries will be the parties’ nominees in the general election to occur on November 7th.
Why local politics matter?
Even though local politics have a real effect on our daily lives, It is common to pay more attention to national matters since they often get the media spotlight. However, our local representatives are the ones who discuss and shape those issues that have the greatest everyday impact to us, citizens –i.e., local laws, policies and budgets-. These local laws, policies and budgets concern public safety, criminal justice, education reform, health care, affordable housing, senior initiatives, social aids, transportation, parks and recreation, racial disparities, small businesses, women´s rights, the disabled, homeless, among many other that have a direct influence on our welfare. At this respect, it is convenient to consider that, in the legislative process, a law has to be voted both at the state Senate and the state House of Representatives before it is passed.
Bill de Blasio has won democratic primary (73.8%), beating Sal Albanese (15.8%) and Michael Tolkin (4.8%), but turnout has been very low indeed: under 14% of registered Democrats cast their ballots on Tuesday September 12th. This worrisome turnout can be interpreted as a sign of apathy and disenchantment of the electorate with the current state of politics, also at the national level.
The five boroughs have been launching a wide range of events and gatherings in the last few weeks, where New Yorkers could meet their candidates, elected officials and raise questions or share views. New York City Campaign Finance Board, in its web site, https://www.nyccfb.info/nyc-votes/, promotes civic engagement and electoral processes. Certainly NYCVotes provides useful information on Registering to Vote, How to Vote, Election Calendar, NYC Voter Guide, Candidate Debates, Community Programs, Youth Programs and Getting involved.
I have been volunteering since June 2017 for one of the candidates in my District. On primary day, September 12th, I happened to talk to a kind Afro-American woman. She emphasized the importance to vote and made a strong point that even women´s suffrage (limited voting rights) started in the 1890’s.
Voting is not just a right, but a duty; especially in those challenging times in which social democracy is being eroded, and extremism and intolerance spread. We have to let our voice be heard and be confident that transformative change can happen and one powerful tool is casting our ballot. There is still a month ahead till the general election, November 7th. Try to get involved and stay informed on local issues to form your own stance. And on Election Day, go to the polls!