In New York City, the Board of Elections’ poster could have read: “Voters wanted.”
Sunday marked the end of a nine-day period of early voting before the August 23rd congressional and state Senate primaries. Redistricting forced two primaries this year, making the job of grabbing voters’ attention even more challenging with so many different campaigning schedules. Recent voter statistics showed that Tuesday’s primary could possibly be even sleepier than June’s contest, which featured the race for governor and drew fewer than 475,000 registered citywide Democrats to cast their ballots.
As of Sunday, roughly 76,000 voters had been checked-in at early voting sites, according to preliminary tallies by the city’s Board of Elections. By the same period during early voting for the June primary, election officials had counted under 87,000 voters.
At Hamilton-Madison House, a polling site on the Lower East Side, voters were hard to come by on Sunday afternoon.
Tom LaGatta, a 39-year-old resident who opted to cast his vote early, said that despite a recent report of Manhattanites having fled to their vacation homes, there were still plenty of New Yorkers who had stuck around.
“A lot of the people that I talked to are in town,” he said. “They're not running off to the Hamptons.”
Nonetheless, he acknowledged that residents might be burned out by elections.
“We had a primary this summer already,” he said. “It's like, we're all exhausted and we need a rest.”
New York City has two key congressional races, both involving large portions of Manhattan.
The 10th District race has drawn 12 candidates, but polls showed four major candidates in a competitive battle: Dan Goldman, a former prosecutor; state Assemblymember Yuh-line Niou; City Councilmember Carlina Rivera and Congressman Mondaire Jones.
In the 12th District, which combines the east and west sides of Manhattan, the contest will involve the loss of at least one senior member of Congress. U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are two incumbents vying for the same seat. They are facing a challenge from Suraj Patel, a lawyer who is seeking his first elected office.
Several voters in the district described the choice as difficult.
“I was almost dreading this day,” said Rich, a 60-year-old voter who voted at the Robert F. Kennedy public school on East 88th Street on Sunday.
Although he voted for Nadler, he said he was hoping that “somehow magically one of them will endorse the other and drop out,” but that has not shown signs of happening anytime soon.
On Sunday, Maloney sharpened her attacks against Nadler, calling his mental fitness into question and touting a recent endorsement from the New York Post. The conservative-leaning news outlet, however, added that voters in favor of change should pick Patel.
Nadler recently won the highly coveted New York Times endorsement,
Dani Wagstaff, who brought her toddler to vote on Sunday, said she chose Maloney because she believed she would be a stronger fighter on women’s rights.She said she had a chance to speak to the congresswoman the prior day at a farmers’ market.
“I met her daughter and asked a couple of questions to some of her people that were volunteering, and I was pleased with what she's doing and what she envisions for the future,” Wagstaff said.
Another Upper East Side voter, Rini Mondel, 36, said she had made up her mind to vote for Patel. Mondel said she was drawn to Patel’s backstory and the chance for “more equal representation.”
If elected, Patel would become the first Indian American to represent New York in Congress.
Correction: A prior version of this story had incorrect totals for early voting.