7 On Your Side Investigates: NYC neighborhoods with lowest voter turnout

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Dan Krauth has more on the voter registration investigation.
Dan Krauth reports on neighborhoods in New York City with some of the lowest voter registration and turnout numbers in the country.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Voters in New York have until Friday to register to cast their ballot in the upcoming election, and 7 On Your Side Investigates found some neighborhoods in the New York City area have some of the lowest voter registration and turnout numbers in the entire country.

In South Bronx for example, only 32% of people voted in the last midterm election. That's low compared to the nearby communities and country.

An area of Queens, the 6th congressional district, had an even lower rate -- only a 27% voter turnout in 2018.

That means only one in four eligible people voted. It also had one of the lowest voting rates in the last presidential election.

"On turnout, New York City really does have challenges," said Sabrina Castillo, of the NYC Campaign Finance Board.

It's Castillo's job to help form partnerships to get out the vote, and she said each community is so diverse that each presents its own set of challenges.

"We just vary block to block, culture to culture, age to age, across the city borough to borough," Castillo said.

2020 Election: Voter registration deadlines and resources for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut

As of this summer, voter registration numbers have been cut by almost half compared to years past.

That's partly due to COVID-19 restrictions, which has left outreach workers unable to knock on doors or have mass voter registration events in subways, schools and office buildings.

"We really had to get innovative in how we do that, so with these online tools and social media, we've really been able to hopefully start to turn that number around," Castillo said.

They're trying to get more people to register online on New York State's DMV website or at Voting.NYC.

Election officials are hopeful one thing could help turn around the low turnout number -i New York now has early voting. It's something that wasn't in place during the last midterm or presidential elections.

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"They really have no excuses now," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said.

Voters can now cast their ballot days early and in more places.

"Folks can no longer say, 'Oh, I was working on Election Day' or 'I had to do something with my kids' or 'I wasn't feeling well,'" Diaz said.

The voter registration deadline is October 9 in New York, October 13 in New Jersey, and October 27 in Connecticut.


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