As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, more than 444,000 people across the five boroughs had cast ballots in the general election. City Limits spoke to residents at the polls, many of whom said they were more motivated by civic duty than by competitive races.

Emma Whitford

Simi Mahtani shows off an “I Voted” sticker after casting a ballot in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, more than 444,000 people across the five boroughs had cast ballots in the general election, just a portion of the city’s 4.6 million active voters.

And while this Election Day does include a handful of competitive City Council races, several voters who spoke to City Limits said they were motivated by other factors—a sense of civic duty, to show support for an unopposed candidate or to weigh in on one of the two ballot proposals presented to voters this year.

“I think it’s important to come out and vote,” said Christian Toth, 52, a recent law school graduate who lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. “I think humanity is made up of individuals and if I’m a grain of sand in the hour glass, I want to go in the right direction.”

Rachel Birch, a 39-year-old nonprofit fundraiser who also lives in the neighborhood, said voting helped counter some of the “negative” feelings she’s had recently “about everything that is going on in the world these days.”

“If we aren’t voting for people on the local level in our neighborhoods, what is the point of democracy?” Birch said. “I think the city is strong and wonderful and we need to do something about the unhoused and education for our children, and for me coming out and voting is a way to do something about it.”

PS 93 in Bedford-Stuyvesant saw a steady trickle of voters Tuesday morning. District 36’s councilmember, Democrat Chi Ossé, is not facing a challenger. Yet some voters said they were eager to show their support for him.

Simi Mahtani, who came to vote after a trip to the gym, said she felt it was important to vote for Ossé because he openly supports a ceasefire in Gaza, which has been under bombardment by the Israeli military since an Hamas-lead attack on Oct. 7. According to the United Nations, the death toll among Palestinians has surpassed 10,000 people, while about 1,400 Israelis have been reported killed.

A spokesperson for Ossé confirmed the lawmaker’s stance on a ceasefire.

“It’s important to show support locally for that,” Mahtani said.

Tatyana Turner

A poll site at PS 90 in the Bronx on Election Day.

In the Bronx, voter Harry Rodriguez said he came out to vote in favor of two proposed amendments to the state’s constitution, related to debt limits for small city school districts across New York and for municipalities when it comes to sewer and water project costs.

“The amendments are crucial for the schools and crucial for sewage,” said Rodriguez, a resident of City Council District 16, which spans several West Bronx neighborhoods.

City Limits also spoke to a few voters who went to cast ballots Tuesday, only to learn that their polling station had changed.

Among them was Ayesha George, who came to the polls at Brooklyn’s PS 93 with her husband Maurice Gabriel and their two young sons. “We always exercise our right,” George said. “That’s what our ancestors died for.” 

But George was frustrated about the polling site switch. “It’s extremely annoying that you come to the polling place that you usually vote at and then they say, ‘Oh yeah, it’s not here,’” she said. “So imagine anyone with any hardships or anything, outside of, you know, our regular abilities just to walk over here with ease. You know that’s not fair.” 

Gloria Hoskins, who has emphysema, was short of breath as she walked a few blocks north to vote at Stuypark House on New York Avenue. “It is frustrating, because they keep changing,” she said. “So you keep walking from one place to another.” 

Daniel Parra

A poll site worker hangs a sign at Frank Sinatra High School in Queens.

But Hoskins was determined to cast her ballot. “If I don’t come out to vote, then I can’t complain because I don’t have no rights,” she added. “I believe in voting, so I come out.” 

District 36 saw its lines redrawn slightly in 2022’s City Council redistricting process, according to a comparison map published by the news outlet THE CITY.  

Speaking generally, Vincent Ignizio, deputy executive director of the New York City Board of Elections (BOE), said that redistricting prompted polling site changes. 

“Many poll sites changed throughout the city with the Council lines, and could be cut differently,” he said. “It’s all done in the open and the voters are all notified of the locations.” 

Voters get a notification in the mail if their polling site changes, he said, and can cross reference on the BOE’s website

As of 9:30 a.m., the morning had been pretty quiet, Ignizio added. He predicted a different story next year, when the presidency and congressional seats will be on the ballot. 

“It’s a particularly quiet year in general, but it’s the pregame to the Super Bowl which is next year,” he said. “So we’re going to pay for it next year.”