Velazquez Wins Democratic Congressional Primary; Staggeringly Low Voter Turnout

Nydia Velázquez, winner of the congressional primary for district 7. Courtesy of Velázquez's Facebook.
Nydia Velázquez, winner of the congressional primary for district 7. Courtesy of Velázquez’s Facebook.

As expected. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez won the Democratic congressional primary for New York District 7 on Tuesday against banker Yungman Lee, and lawyer Jeff Kurzon. Velázquez, a 12-term incumbent, had 61.53 percent of the vote, according to the New York State Board of Elections unofficial results.

Voter turnout was pitiful. With 359,029 eligible voters in the district, only 15,545 voted — about four percent.

Experts note that low voter turnout generally favors the incumbent in elections, and is caused by many factors such as registration deadlines long before the actual election, and voters not being mailed election information such as polling locations.

“Not mailing polling locations to voters, requiring registration at least a month before elections, and holding non-concurrent elections should all create low-turnout environments,” writes Jessica Trounstine, a political science professor at the University of California Merced. “These low-turnout environments enhance the incumbency advantage and produce policy that is beneficial to subgroups with a strong fiduciary interest in local politics because they are likely to participate even when voting is onerous.”
Polling results for congressional district 7. Courtesy of New York Board of Elections.
Polling results for congressional district 7. Courtesy of New York Board of Elections.
 The New York City Campaign Finance Board made a ranking of states with the best voter turnout last year, and New York was placed at 46th. Six of the top 10 states in voter turnout all had modernized voting laws such as same day registration.
“Our democracy only works better when you exercise your power to vote,” said Councilman Carlos Menchaca in a Facebook post on Tuesday urging people to vote.
Kurzon showed good sportsmanship and congratulated Velázquez via Twitter:
Councilman Brad Lander, who found himself in a public fued with Yungman Lee over the candidate’s campaign signs attacking Velázquez, also took to Twitter to congratulate the winner:
Velázquez became the first elected Puerto Rican woman in Congress in 1993. In 2003, Hispanic Business Magazine honored her with it’s first “Woman of the Year” award because of her support of minority small businesses. She has also been criticized for raising money from corporations such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, and supported the loosening of the Glass-Steagall Act, which is regarded as setting the stage for the 2008 financial crisis.

 

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Sean Egan

Sean Egan recently graduated from Brooklyn College, where he studied journalism. You can find him around the neighborhood, snapping photos and taking notes, probably with a coffee in hand.

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