New York City Messed Up Your Vote

Photo by Tatiana Rodriguez on Unsplash
  • Impartial news outlets that have at least ONE debate between all three candidates so that voters understand what representative really wants to work for them and not just occupy a seat. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Yvette Clark at least debated their opponents in order to deepen the contrasts they had with their rivals. Many Assembly races were bereft of that. Representative Gregory Meeks did not debate his opponent Shaniyat Chowdhry. Instead the campaign of Meeks just ignored the request. In the Assembly District 28 race, Jenifer Rajkumar was given more airtime to talk about her candidacy whereas Joey DeJesus -the candidate who had the most left policies of either Miller or Rajkumar- kept getting ignored and sidelined. The only South Asian outlet, JusPunjabi only covered Rajkumar and not her opponent despite repeated requests.
  • Funding! This is a big one since campaigns are reliant on the public to contribute to their campaigns if they’re running to represent the people and not big corporations. In this election cycle, we saw many insurgent candidates with bold progressive ideas fall behind because they were unable to afford paid media advertisements, palm cards, and other campaign visibility. Some candidates on the other hand took out a loan from their parents or individually came armed with big money upwards of $100,00–$300,000 to fund their runs. Sounds very Trump-like.
  • ENDORSEMENTS. This one was key factor in many races across the board. With groups like Democratic Socialists of American endorsing candidates in Western Queens, it left out many insurgents candidates of color in Southeast Queens to fend for themselves. Candidates like Zohran Mamdani received the full throated support but also people power to launch a successful challenge against Assemblywoman Simotas in Astoria. Given the difficulties inherent of running in Queens against entrenched incumbents, that is even more so of an uphill climb when it comes to challenging someone like Gregory Meeks, who has now become the face of the Queens Democratic Party after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez successfully took down Joe Crowley in New York’s 14th Congressional District.
  • EXCITEMENT. Without excitement there would be very little chance the a campaign can succeed. In this era of politics, where Bernie Sanders has dominated the news cycles for his record breaking contributions and massive crowds at rallies. Through his message of progressive upheaval and optimism, Bernie Sanders was able to mobilize a generation of young people to the polls, to run for office and to ask the uncomfortable questions that people were too scared to address. The dynamics of the primary season for Bernie in New York were fraught with court battles with the New York State Board of Elections in which the state repeatedly tried to get Bernie off the ballot and disenfranchise voters from casting their ballots in the New York State primary for the democratic nomination for President. They were ultimately unsuccessful and Bernie progressives came out on the other hand in enfranchising voters to be able to cast their ballot. Given the late primary that New York has in the nominating process it was a huge source of contention by activists that the Democratic Party continue to push aside those who wanted to play a larger role in pushing Medicare for All, a Green New Deal among many other priorities.

Assemblymember Weprin, City Comproller Weprin and District Leader and Judicial Delegate Weprin.

Understanding Assemblymember Weprin is an uphill challenge for sure. While wearing many hats in an organization is somewhat relatable to me and the formal job economy does value workers who can ‘wear many hats’ or handle a lot of responsibilities when it comes to politics however, I simply do not understand why one elected official -among many others- have so many positions of elected power under their umbrella. Given that Weprin has been in power for decades longer than I have been alive, but has not delieverd much besides token activism in the New York State Legislature and then coming back to his district and accepting money from Zara Realty who oppresses the South Asian tenants and uses brutal tactics against their own tenants. Many of these constituents are the ones that Weprin claims to represent and not knowing/caring what issues these tenants are dealing with that Zara management puts them through. Assemblyman Weprin also needs a reckoning as to when to pass the baton to those who are younger and want to actually tackle the issue of expensive housing in southeast Queens and to mobilize people to collectively fight for their interests like the candidacy of Mafuzal Islam wanted to do.

Community Leaders Speak Out

This tweet by Hersh Parekh who used to work for the Governor of New York had community members in Queens outraged.

New York City Politics becomes Entangled with Voter Disenfranchisement

New Yorkers have been facing the brunt of a New York State government that no longer is working in their interests, a Governor that has decided to give himself a pat on the back with the release of this awful poster, and the crisis that is coming with the evictions that will start to exacerbate the homelessness crisis.

Voters expressed their anger toward the Board of Elections for not doing their jobs the right way and ensuring that Queens voters could cast their ballots during a deadly pandemic.

The Takeaway

Given that we’re seeing the rise in cases and the lack of accountability from both Democrats and Republicans in protecting our right to vote, South Asian Americans have every right to furious that New York State is proving to put many barriers into place when it comes to exercising the right to vote.

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Navjot Pal Kaur

Navjot Pal Kaur

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