Former Assemblymember and New York County Democrats Leader Keith Wright spoke with New York County Politics to share his thoughts on the imminent primary elections, scheduled for June 23.
From the get-go, he cited such new developments as early voting in the nine days leading up to Election Day as an example of new challenges. “It’s a whole new world and dynamic in terms of administering elections, how people run for office and how we run our elections,” said Wright.
He continued, praising Manhattan’s district leaders and for their help in conducting voter outreach preparing for the borough’s more challenging voting bloc. ”We have a sophisticated, very educated electorate,” said Wright. “And we probably have some of the most passionate people, and they do a fantastic job.”
Wright then discussed other challenges related to the current climate, and acknowledged the heroic sacrifice of employees of the city Board of Elections.
“We’re being assaulted on all sides. We have an economic pandemic, a sociological pandemic, and a health pandemic, and we still have to run elections,” he said. “They have to brave each and every night. They’re not getting home till nine, ten o’clock every night, they have to be at the board offices at 7:30, 8 o’clock in the morning, they have to try and remain safe. I think the Board of Elections had people die from COVID, and these folks are still mailing out ballots and making sure they run as smoothly as possible.”
Wright also discussed the importance of senior citizens in elections, due to their reliability as voters and dominant role as poll workers, but expressed concerns that the coronavirus would stunt their turnout. “I don’t see a lot of them ready to expose themselves to the pandemic that’s in front of us right now, so it’s uncharted territory right now.”
When asked about any particular elections that he wanted to observe, Wright insisted that every election is worth observing. “Every election is case study in human behavior in terms of what people want and what they want in the future,” he said.
Wright also took a neutral tone on the divide between moderate establishment Democrats and the progressive insurgency. He showed appreciation for the youth vote, saying that higher voter turnout is never a bad thing.
“I’ve always been one to encourage folks to vote. We were trying to make sure that young folks would come out. Well you know what’s happening,” he said. “I’m a child of the Sixties. We demonstrated, we marched, we got arrested and such. I believe in the old adage of Frederick Douglass: `agitate, agitate, agitate,’ and it does my heart good saying these young folks out here each and every day, and hopefully they can turn their activism into voting.”