If you live in New York City you’ve probably been conditioned to believe your vote doesn’t count all that much. Fundraising and media appearances aside, presidential campaigns mostly ignore New York while the Electoral College ensures that the votes of people who live in places like North Dakota and Wyoming are nearly three times more valuable than our own. Every once in a while we see a contested Congressional race but even the most shockingly useless incumbents are impossible to get rid of. U.S. Senators, these days, are machine-picked like non-organic industrial produce. And in the New York state legislature, incumbents are re-elected more than 90 percent of the time. Assembly Members and State Senators leave office in handcuffs and pine boxes.
But once every eight years a New York City resident’s vote really, truly matters in a big way. Tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15, is that day.
Thanks to the remnants of New York City’s term-limits law, the vagaries of our one-party system, and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau finally relinquishing office after 35 years, your single, individual vote carries disproportionate influence. Hotly contested, multi-candidate City Council seats will be won with as few as 5,000 or 6,000 votes. That’s it. That’s all it takes to win the job. Since the general election mostly doesn’t matter in the Democrat-controlled Council, the person who is likely to represent you from January 1, 2010 through the end of 2017 will be selected tomorrow by just a few thousand Democratic primary voters. Why not be one of them?