Long plagued by a lack of voter turnout, especially youth presence, New York is currently the process of wrapping up its 2020 primary election. In a discussion with Olivia Brady, a Political Science & Government and Gender & Sexuality Studies double major at NYU and the Youth Coordinator at the New York City Campaign Finance Board, she opens up about the current holes in the voting system, next steps on the community, and her perspectives.
Every year, fury and frenzy surrounds the November presidential election. But when local elections roll around, the same group of young people neglect to show up. Many key local races have a less than 20% youth turnout.
With increased cynicism around the significance of voting, Olivia emphasizes the importance of voting locally. “We may not have the power to control our President, but we can vote for our city council, assembly member, and make our voices heard.” It is true. In local elections, where victory can be defined by a thousand votes, the significance of one vote is magnified.
During this time, voter disparity has been magnified. During other times, NYC Votes, the campaign and voter outreach arm of the Campaign Finance Board, would already have registered thousands of voters for the upcoming elections. But this year, voting may just be a testament to the haves and have nots.
Due to the ongoing pandemic, absentee voting and online voter registration has become the dominant form of voting. This in of itself has become an issue. “We know certain people don’t have access to voting mechanisms, causing some people to be double disenfranchised. Thousands of New Yorkers, particularly young voters, are not going to have a voice for many years to come.”
Drivers licence and state ID’s for example are necessary for online registration, but not everyone has the resource to attain these prerequisites. Facing this issue, NYC Votes and the Campaign Finance Board have been working on creative solutions.For New Yorkers, Olivia gave a few suggestions. “Always demand more from your government…. check out our nonpartisan voter guide, check candidates’ social media and websites.” Lastly, you can text VOTE2020 to +19179796377 for updates regarding the next voting cycle and more.
There are completely valid reasons to not vote, Olivia recognized. There is no doubt that voting alone cannot create systemic changes. But her work for the NYC Campaign Finance Board and NYC Votes, aim to bridge together voter disparity and concerns, especially through local voting, which she believes, is where our voice matters most.
Hence, your vote matters.