Candidates in a hotly contested Queens congressional contest expect few of the more than 180,000 registered Democrats to head to the polls for the upcoming primary.
The estimates of the 6th District’s candidates align with a recently released study that found less than a third of registered voters cast a ballot in New York City.
“Voter Turnout in New York City,” a report by the city’s Campaign Finance Board, found that New York City falls well below the state and nation in the percentage of voters that head to the polls.
Only 28 percent of registered voters cast a ballot during 2010’s midterm election, compared to 53 percent in the rest of New York, and 46 percent nationally. A major city race in 2009 did little to boost that number, as just 29 percent of people voted in that year’s mayoral election.
Candidates in the upcoming 6th District Democratic primary do not expect to approach even those numbers.
The campaigns for Assemblymembers Grace Meng and Rory Lancman both expect about 32,000 voters — which equals just 17 percent of the 183,000 registered Democrats.
Candidate Dr. Robert Mittman said he would be surprised to see even 30,000 people at the polls.
Most of the district had between 11 and 25 percent voter turnout in the 2009 elections, the finance board’s report found.
“It’s difficult to predict turnout for such an unprecedented primary election date,” said Austin Finan, Meng’s spokesperson.
Prior to this year, federal primaries were held in September, but were moved in January to comply with the federal MOVE Act, which was enacted to aid voting for those serving in the military overseas.
“It’s going to be a low turnout election,” Lancman’s spokesperson Eric Walker said. “Ask any political professional what’s the most important thing in a low turnout election — and it’s your field operation and your ‘get out the vote’ operation.”
Lancman’s field operation includes going door to door and identifying voters.
With low numbers expected, every vote takes on greater importance.
“We are trying to get as many people out to vote as possible,” said Eric Yun, Crowley’s spokesperson. “We are targeting every vote we could possibly get.”
The campaigning will go down to the very last minute, said Finan.
“We’ve run the strongest, grassroots field operation throughout the course of the campaign, and we are extremely well prepared to get out the vote in the final days of the campaign,” Finan said.
The primary is set for June 26.
– Additional reporting by Melissa Chan