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Don’t Forget about the NYC Primary Elections: We Gained Our Right to Vote

Yes, the general elections are important where we must vote to decide the best candidate between the republican and the democratic. But so are the primary elections, which help to narrow down the candidates. It’s like “the election before election.”  

In a primary election, candidates go head-to-head with members of their party to determine who will represent the party in the general election. Voters get to hear from several democratic, republican candidates, and candidates from third parties. Since media coverage focuses on the votes in each state during primary season, all candidates are more likely to get some coverage and provide a national stage for free and open exchange of all ideas and opinions. 

People don’t seem to realize that primaries are a critical phase. Many skip the primary and only vote in the general election, then they whine and complain that their party’s candidate is not the one they would have chosen, which is why voting in the primaries matters. If voters watch the primary debates and notice a candidate explaining plans they agree with it, then vote and spread the word. 

According to an Odyssey article, as an example, if a weaker candidate drops out of the race during the final weeks of the primaries, that candidate can succeed in winning a substantial number of votes. There is a good chance that some aspects of that person's platform will be adopted by the party's chosen candidate, meaning the candidate chosen will probably have more of a chance of winning. Even if the candidate isn’t your first choice, you would still want your party to win. 

The candidate running for governor in the primary elections in New York is Gov. Kathy Hochul aiming to hold onto the role she took in August when she replaced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo after he resigned following sexual harassment allegations. Her Democratic primary opponents include Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi, who vows to lower taxes and cut down on crime. Jumaane Williams, New York City’s Public Advocate, who's fighting for tenant and housing rights, education, and mental health support. 

On the republican side, we have nominee Lee Zeldin, a Long Island congressman, who’s in the lead. Andrew Giuliani, son of former New York City mayor and Republican politician Rudy Giuliani; former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and businessman Harry Wilson. And of course, other candidates are running for Lieutenant Governor, State Assembly, Judges, & Party Positions. Vote. NYC has the full list of candidates. 

The right to vote in U.S. elections has seen massive change. According to National Geographic, voting was not always a right for all Americans. As written originally, the United States Constitution did not define specifically who could or could not vote. Article 1 of the Constitution determined that members of the Senate and House of Representatives would both be elected directly by popular vote. The president, however, would be elected not by direct vote but by the Electoral College. This indirect election method was seen as a balance between the popular vote and using a state’s representatives in Congress to elect a president. 

Since the Constitution did not specifically say who could vote, this question was up to the states into the 1800s. In most cases, white men were eligible to vote, while white women, black people, and other disadvantaged groups of the time weren't. 

It was not until the 15th Amendment in 1869 that black men were allowed to vote. But even so, many would-be voters faced artificial hurdles like poll taxes, literacy tests, and other measures meant to discourage them from their voting right. These challenges would continue until the 24th Amendment in 1964, which eliminated the poll tax, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which ended Jim Crow laws. Women weren't allowed to vote until 1920 when the creation of the 19th Amendment began. 

With these amendments removing sex and race, all citizens over 21 could vote by the mid-1960s. Later, in 1971, the American voting age was lowered to 18, building on the idea that if a person was old enough to serve their country in the military, they should be allowed to vote. 

Susan B Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucy Stone, Ida. B Wells, Frances E.W. Harper, and Mary Church Terrel helped women, Black women obtained the right to vote. Black men and other ethnic groups had amendments and acts created for them. Voting in the primary is critical because it is one part of being in a participatory democracy. It’s our right. Use it. 

And I’m sick of hearing “My vote doesn’t count,” “My vote doesn’t matter or make a difference,” because that’s a load of crap. The U.S. has had one of the closest elections in history.  

In National Geographic, it states, “In 2000, Al Gore narrowly lost the Electoral College vote to George W. Bush. The election came down to a recount in Florida, where Bush had won the popular vote by such a small margin that it triggered an automatic recount and a Supreme Court case (Bush v. Gore). In the end, Bush won Florida by 0.009 percent of the votes cast in the state, or 537 votes. Had 600 more pro-Gore voters gone to the polls in Florida that November, there may have been an entirely different president from 2000–2008.” 

In 2016, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by securing a detailed body win. Although the election failed to come down to a couple of votes in one state, Trump’s votes within the body decided a decent race. Clinton had won the national popular vote by nearly three million votes, but the concentration of Trump voters in key districts in “swing” states like Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan helped seal enough electoral votes to win the presidency.    

“Your vote may not directly elect the president, but if your vote joins enough others in your voting district or county, your vote undoubtedly matters when it comes to electoral results. Most states have a “winner take all” system where the popular vote winner gets the state’s electoral votes”, stated by National Geographic. 

Voter turnout is usually low in the primary elections, fewer people are participating in these important decisions. If you want changes made to your neighborhood, city, or state, voting is an essential step. Primary election Day for New York City is on June 28, 2022. Early voting has already begun. Go Vote! 

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