Students walked with books in their hands and headphones on their ears like any other day at Hostos Community College in the Bronx.
But it’s not any other day; it’s Election Day where after 12 years of Michael Bloomberg, New Yorkers will choose a new mayor.
“The only way the Bronx is going to be heard is if we get out and vote,” said John DeSio, communications officer for the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“We use social media platforms like Facebook where young voters are and encourage them to vote. We also go to high school and encourage 18-year-olds to register to vote,” he said.
However, young residents didn’t seem motivated to exercise this right. “I don’t feel anyone is going to help me, so I’m going to help myself,” said 20-year-old Angelica Sitnyakovsjaya, who didn’t believe candidates or the act of voting would make a difference in her daily life as a student.
Her sentiment expressed many young residents in the Bronx. “I just don’t believe politicians remember our needs once they get into the office,” said Oliver Cruz, 20, also a student.
The Bronx has the lowest voter turnout in New York City. Many factors contribute to this including a high percentage on non-English speakers and residents who frequently move.
Less than a dozen voters were seen at a polling site at Hostos Community College in the afternoon. A few hundred people so far had voted on the two electronic voting machines.
“This is pretty normal,” said 72-year-old poll worker Leonarda Villanueva of the turnout so far. She has been a poll worker every year since 1978.
“I remember last year, everyone was excited about the Obama campaign. It was unbelievable,” she said. She remembered that there were so many voters last year the polling site ran out of election materials.
“I remember a voter loudly praying for Obama to win before casting her ballot,” she said. But this excitement wasn’t seen on Tuesday, when voters sporadically entered the site. And even the few voters that did straggle in, not many were young adults.
But Marco Sanchez, 20, a student, appeared to be more hopeful about the future. “I can’t vote now because I’m a resident,” referring to his immigration status. “But if I were a citizen, I would vote. It’s our right to elect the people who will represent us.”