You know, sometimes it feels like New York’s election laws are written to decrease, rather than increase, the number of people who actually vote. Perhaps it has something to do with the state inexplicably holding two primary days: one in June for federal races, and one in September for state races (it’s not inexplicable, it’s so the good folks in Albany have more time to schmooze in the capital before they have to hit the campaign trail). Or maybe it’s the total lack of mail-in and no-excuse absentee voting and same-day registration. Or how dang difficult it is to change your party once you’ve registered.
Oh, yes. There’s a primary this Thursday, and — assuming you’re registered in New York, you should vote in it. If you don’t know your polling place, or your elected officials, you can look them up here: https://voterlookup.elections.ny.gov/votersearch.aspx.
Because whomever you’re voting for, you need to vote. It’s the most powerful tool in your political arsenal. As college students — and more generally, as young people — we and our ideas are often looked down upon. But the beauty of democracy is our votes count just as much as our parents, our professors, our employers and everyone else. But again, that is only if we use them.
Does your vote “really count”? Ask Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who toppled one of the most powerful politicians in America, Queens congressman Joe Crowley, by a mere 4,000 votes in June. A group of voters one-fourth the size of Cornell’s undergraduate population caused a seismic shift in the Democratic Party, so don’t think it can’t happen here.
The two biggest races are the Democratic gubernatorial primary, featuring incumbent Andrew Cuomo and insurgent challenger Cynthia Nixon, and the Democratic primary for attorney general, in which four candidates are running. If you’re happy with the way in which New York has been run for the past eight years (the passage of marriage equality, gun control, paid family leave), or if you value governing experience, Cuomo is probably the candidate for you. If you favor a bold, progressive agenda focused on criminal justice reform, finally legalizing marijuana, and fixing the decaying New York City subway, and you aren’t so worried about previous governing experience (or questionable bagel choices), consider Nixon.
For attorney general, you should vote for Zeyphr Teachout. Over the next several years, the NYAG will be tasked with investigating corruption in Albany, corruption in New York City and corruption in the Trump Foundation (especially if the president shuts down the federal investigations). Teachout, a Fordham law professor, literally wrote the book on corruption, and would be an independent-minded force in the swampy state capital.
But regardless of who you support, please do vote. It’s important.