Those running for mayor have exercised their civic duty to varying degrees over their time as New York City voters, a City Limits review of Board of Elections records indicates.
If you’re old-fashioned, you were likely brought up to believe that voting is a duty and a privilege, whether those terms called to mind images of Valley Forge or the Pettus Bridge or both. The people who are running for mayor have exercised their duty to varying degrees over their time as New York City voters, a City Limits review of Board of Elections records for the major candidates indicates.
While Andrew Yang’s remarkably thin voting record has already generated headlines (and a defense from Yang himself), other candidates also have holes in their histories.
Ray McGuire didn’t vote in the 2000 presidential race, the 2010 gubernatorial contest or the 2001 or 2017 city elections. Dianne Morales didn’t vote in the primary or general contest in the 2001 or 2005 citywide elections.
Maya Wiley didn’t vote in the last citywide general election, Eric Adams didn’t cast a ballot in the Barack vs. Hillary presidential primary in 2008, and Shaun Donovan’s absence from the city during and after his Obama administration stint means there are a lot of years when he wasn’t part of New York City’s body politic.
Hard to compare, but let’s do it anyway
Donovan’s two long absences from the city—he worked in Washington in the late 1990s as well—is one reason why directly comparing the candidates is a little complicated. Morales was also not in New York for a long stretch, from 1993 into 2000.
Another complicating factor is the substantial age range among the major mayoral hopefuls: Yang is 46 and McGuire just turned 64, giving the latter citizen a lot more opportunity to cast ballots. (Fun fact: McGuire and Kathryn Garcia registered to vote a week apart back in 1988.)
And some candidates have had more chances to vote in off-year races, special elections and Democratic primaries, depending on where in the city they were living at the time those races popped up. The fact that Adams was a registered Republican from 1997 into 2001 meant he had fewer primaries to participate in (in addition, Adams insists he registered to vote at age 21 and is unsure why his BOE records do not begin until 12 years later).
With those qualifications in mind, a crude tally shows Stringer as the most accomplished New York City voter, having participated in 64 elections here.
Garcia has voted 51 times in the city, Adams 42, Wiley 37, Morales 22, McGuire 21 and Donovan 15. Yang has voted a mere 11 times in New York over the nearly 25 years he has been registered.
|Date of Birth||09/01/60||01/24/66||03/03/70||01/23/57||06/21/67||04/29/60||01/02/64||01/13/75|
|Date of Registration||10/07/93||09/24/90||04/21/88||04/28/88||05/21/92||01/01/84||08/17/92||10/04/96|
‘I didn’t always feel invested’
Occasionally, the candidates joined one another on the electoral sidelines. Stringer, McGuire and Yang all missed the 2010 general. Neither McGuire nor Morales nor Yang voted in the 2018 general election. Neither Garcia nor McGuire nor Yang participated in the February 2019 citywide special election for public advocate.
“Electoral politics wasn’t where I was looking to for answers at the time,” says Morales about the holes in her voting record. “I was focused on my providing for my children and as an Afro-Latino single working mother, I didn’t always feel invested in by our government or by any campaigns, so there are some years I didn’t have the capacity to engage in elections on my own. This is a feeling I know so many other New Yorkers resonate with right now, they feel left out of the process and they don’t feel like a priority. Our campaign is changing that, we’re centering women, our single mothers, our frontline workers, and our Black and brown and immigrant communities.”
The McGuire campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Some years posed a special test: 2016 was unusual for the number of times New York Democrats were called to the polls. Only Stringer voted in the April presidential primary, the June federal primary, the September state primary and the November general election. Adams and Wiley managed to bat three for four that year, and Garcia showed up twice. McGuire, Morales and Yang voted in the general. Donovan was out of town.
Finally, it’s fitting that this is the first mayoral race to feature ranked-choice voting instead of the old runoff mechanism, because runoffs have not seen consistent participation from the candidates. McGuire, Morales and Yang all skipped the 2013 public advocate runoff between Tish James and Dan Squadron. Only Garcia and Stringer voted in the 2009 double runoff for public advocate (Bill de Blasio vs. Mark Green) and comptroller (John Liu vs. David Yassky). McGuire and Yang missed the epic 2001 Green vs. Fernando Ferrer mayoral runoff.
Murphy is the 2021 Wayne Barrett Fellow with Type Investigations