By: Sarah Logan
Illustration By: Sarah Logan
On November 6, Americans all over the country flooded to their local poll stations and exercised their right to vote. Or, did they?
If you are as lost as I am about the results for the new election, you are not alone. Many students and residents of the Harlem area, including myself, are still lost in the dark about many of the proposals and results that came out of this new election.
In my own experience, voting was especially new for me this year. In late September, I turned 18 and I was extremely excited to vote. Voting felt like a rite of passage into adulthood. I was ready to participate inAmerican politics wholeheartedly. Looking at the ballot, I was slightly overwhelmed. I asked questions like: What do these candidates stand for? What are they proposing to bring to America?
Because of the abundance of information on theInternet, I was able to research each candidate and choose accordingly. However, even though I took these laborious steps, I still felt that I was missing some data and viewpoints.
So, you may ask; did CCNY and the Harlem area participate in the most recent election? One source had some input on voting in today’s climate. Flora Lennihan, an undecided Freshman with intentions to major in FilmStudies and minor in Anthropology, did not vote. Why? “I am still underage,”she said, “I turn 18 in late December.” Even though she did not vote, she expressed great interest in politics in general. “If I could vote, I would!”she explained to me. What did she feel about the voter turnout in this election? “I was glad to see my peers and the younger generation out there voting. I’m happy to see that there is more of a push in our society to vote. There is so much awareness all over the country and in our community.” She then explained that “even underage people are aware of the necessity to vote. They impact the world in their own way.”
A recent poll found that 48.3% of members of CCNY did not vote. When asked why, they responded; “I didn’t have time,” “School takes all day,” “I have too much school work and not enough time,” “I couldn’t make it to my polling place on time,” “The polling location is 1.5+ hours away and the democrats were winning their respective elections anyways.” Most students are so tied up with their own individual lives, they say it is difficult to remain active in the country’s politics. These responses also put into question the accessibility of polling locations. Is the government doing a good job of bringing polling locations to the public? Or are they restraining individuals from exercising their right?
Additionally, some people did not vote simply because they have lost faith in their party’s chance at victory. These individuals said; “I didn’t vote because I saw no purpose, as my republican vote in such a democratic area is essentially futile,” and “New York is a blue state anyway.”
Another reason why students did not vote was because they were not legally able to. In the poll, members of the CCNY community said that they did not participate because; “I’m not a citizen,” and “I can’t legally vote.” One person also said that they were “not in the country.” An anonymous professor at CCNY stated that they could not vote either. “It’s unfortunate, but I didn’t vote because I couldn’t. I’m not a citizen.”
Whether or not individuals in the community were able to vote, or chose not to, an election took place and people have been officially named as representatives. The New York Times states that Kirsten Gillibrand has won the senatorial position with 426,972 votes in comparison to Chele Farley’s 48,123. For governor? Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic representative, received 414,951 votes, Marc Molinaro, the Republican representative, got 47,499votes and 17,362 people voted for Julie Killian, the representative of the third party for Conservatism and Reform.
CCNYis located within the 13th congressional district, so Adriano Espaillat will now be representing our area in the White House. Espaillat, aDemocrat won by 94.6% and pulled in 167,667 votes while Jineea Butler, theRepublican representative, got 9,525 votes.
Many voters, including myself, were not aware of the three proposals placed on the back of all of NYC’s ballots. Only 31% of participants in the recent poll said that they were aware of these proposals. They said; “I agreed with all three,”“shocked,” “SAD,” “unprepared.” Others had a bit more to say; “I have mixed feelings – they appear positive at first glance, but when researched, they make me doubt that these are the best solutions to campaign, etc.,” and “they sound fine, they’re keeping money out of politics.”
Said proposals ranged from election funding to representation. Nyc.gov provides detailed information regarding these three proposals. The first, Campaign Finance, promises to lower the amount a City elected official can fundraise from one singular source. This proposal deals mostly with the financial aspect of America’s voting system. The second proposal, called Civic Engagement Commission, seeks to elect 15 representatives from varying points on the political spectrum to represent minorities inAmerica. Groups such as immigrants, youth, non-English speakers, the disabled, seniors, veterans and groups that are historically unrepresented will all benefit from this group. The third is called Community Boards, where advisors of New York City will look over various matters of our city, such as land use.There were three requirements for the creation of this board. One, City officials are required to seek out diverse members to represent the board. Two, each member can only complete a maximum of four consecutive two-year terms.Three, the Civic Engagement Commission must provide resources, assistance, and training for the individuals on the board.
All of these local elections impact this nation on a federal level. Now that the Democrats hold the majority of the House, Donald Trump will likely be feeling resistance. NPR states that the House will seek access to Trump’s tax return information. Additionally, it will make it harder for Republicans to pass immigration laws and Barack Obama’s healthcare laws will remain secured within the hands of the Democrats. Because theSenate will remain Republican, Trump will have the ability to change his cabinet more frequently. The Republicans will also have more influence on judicial proceedings.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the new US Representative for the 14th congressional district in New York City promises change for the future. She proudly took her place as the youngest women representative at 28 years old on November 6. NPR reports that she will be pushing for gun-control laws and sustainable energy throughout America. Being born in TheBronx and showing her Puerto-Rican heritage, she promises to strongly represent all of New York City on Capitol Hill.
Demographically, New York demonstrated that it is a very diverse state in government this past election, relatively. Currently, there are 8 women and 6 people of color in the House, the Senate, and the Gubernatorial race combined in the state. Representatives like Gregory Meeks of the 5th congressional district represents the East Harlem area and is one of these individuals breaking governmental norms. Similarly, Yvette Clarke from the 9th is excited to show her Jamaican ancestry for all of New York to both see and relate to.
The results of this last election allow all of us to reevaluate our positions as Americans and New Yorkers. Even as this article sands as an informative resource, let the above inspire you to look into this wide world of politics head-on.