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November 15, 2023

Across New York State, voter turnout was significantly lower than last year’s
election, including in jurisdictions with important local races

To view Citizens Union’s analysis, click here

New York, N.Y. (November 15, 2023) – In last week’s elections, voter turnout decreased significantly across New York State, including in areas with important local races, according to an analysis from Citizens Union. The analysis compared voter turnout in key races for county and city offices in 2023 with voter turnout in overlapping areas in November 2022, finding that turnout in last year’s elections was higher by 42 percent to 169 percent.

According to unofficial election night results, only 18 percent of eligible New York voters cast their ballots in the November 2023 general election. This highlights the need to shift local elections to even-numbered years and consolidate them with federal or statewide races, which see higher voter turnout.

This year, the legislature passed S3505B/A4282, legislation that would move certain New York county and town elections to even-numbered years. The bill is awaiting Governor Hochul’s signature. A recent Siena College poll found that moving local elections to even-numbered years has support across the political spectrum, with a majority of Democrats and a plurality of Independents and Republicans favoring the policy. In January, Citizens Union released a report outlining the benefits of consolidating local races with elections for statewide or federal offices.

“Low voter turnout in last week’s off-year election demonstrates the need to consolidate local elections with higher-profile races that see higher turnout,” said Betsy Gotbaum, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “Moving local elections to even-numbered years will engage more voters and make the electorate more representative of the population. We urge Governor Hochul to sign legislation to move county and town elections to even-numbered years, a move that will strengthen local democracy across the state.”

Outline of the key findings of Citizens Union’s analysis of key countywide races: County leadership positions were on the ballot this year in some of the state’s highly populated areas, including Suffolk, Erie, Onondaga, and Monroe counties. In each of these counties, turnout was significantly lower than in 2022:

1. Suffolk County: In the race for an open County Executive, about a quarter of registered voters came out to the polls. In comparison, more than double that amount voted in 2022 for Governor.

  • 2023 Suffolk County Executive election: 27 percent voter turnout, 277,857 voters
  • 2022 Governor election in Suffolk County: 54 percent voter turnout, 566,073 voters

2. Erie County: In a competitive County Executive race, only one-third of eligible voters came out to vote compared to more than half in 2022 – a 75 percent decrease from the previous year.

  • 2023 Erie County Executive election: 32 percent voter turnout, 199,855 voters
  • 2022 Governor election in Erie County: 56 percent voter turnout, 346,087 voters

3. Monroe County: Despite a highly competitive election for County Executive, voter turnout was less than 30 percent. In comparison, in 2022, almost 60 percent of voters came out to vote.

  • 2023 Monroe County Executive election: 29 percent voter turnout, 140,749 voters
  • 2022 Governor election in Monroe County: 57 percent voter turnout, 277,983 voters

4. Onondaga: In Onondaga, the incumbent County Executive, Republican Ryan McMahon, sought re-election in a county that typically votes Democratic. However, voter turnout was only 30 percent, compared to last year’s 56 percent in the election for Governor.

  • 2023 Onondaga County Executive election: 29 percent voter turnout, 87,661 voters
  • 2022 Governor election in Onondaga County: 56 percent voter turnout, 169,977 voters


Outline of the key findings of Citizens Union’s analysis of key city races: In New York City, there were several highly competitive City Council races on the ballot, while in other parts of the state, there were a few competitive mayoral races. Voter turnout was significantly lower in these local races than in overlapping races in 2022.

1. City Council District 13: In a highly competitive race in the east Bronx, voter turnout was only 14 percent, compared to last year's overlapping state assembly district race, which had triple the turnout.

  • 2023 City Council District 13 election: 14 percent voter turnout, 12,525 voters
  • 2022 Assembly District 82 election: 39 percent voter turnout, 28,991 voters

2. City Council District 43: Only 13 percent of residents cast ballots in the competitive race for the newly created council district in southern Brooklyn. In contrast, last year’s general election for Senate District 17, which covers a similar area, had more than double the voter turnout.

  • 2023 City Council District 43 election: 13 percent voter turnout, 8,067 voters
  • 2022 Senate District 17 election: 29 percent voter turnout, 36,247 voters

3. City Council District 19: In northern Queens, a competitive race for a recently-flipped Council District had only 21 percent voter turnout. In comparison, the two Assembly Districts that cover that area had double the turnout on average in the most recent even-year election.

  • 2023 City Council District 19 election: 21 percent voter turnout, 19,355 voters
  • 2022 Assembly District 26 election: 44 percent voter turnout, 34,167 voters
  • 2022 Assembly District 27 election: 37 percent voter turnout, 23,726 voters


Other Cities:

  • In Yonkers, only 24 percent of voters turned out to vote for Mayor this year compared to 43 percent for the race for Governor in 2022.
  • In Troy, only 33 percent of eligible voters participated in the race to succeed the term-limited mayor. In comparison, nearly half of all Troy voters, or 47 percent, voted for Governor in the last even-numbered year election.
  • In Poughkeepsie, only 30 percent of eligible voters participated in the open-seat mayoral election, while 47 percent turned out for the gubernatorial election in 2022.

Please note that the turnout numbers presented here for the 2023 general election are based on unofficial election night results and are subject to change. Complete data and sources for all surveyed elections can be found at the end of Citizens Union’s report.


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