Democratic primary contenders, from left, John Avlon and Nancy Goroff, who...

Democratic primary contenders, from left, John Avlon and Nancy Goroff, who are running in the 1st Congressional District, and Siela Bynoe and Taylor Darling, who are running in State Senate's 6th District. Credit: Lynsey Addario, James Escher

Daily Point

Turnout low in CD1, State Senate, Assembly races

After four days of early primary voting on Long Island for State Senate and Assembly seats and one congressional race, voter turnout has been unsurprisingly low.

In Nassau County, 880 voters have shown up since voting began Saturday to choose between Siela Bynoe and Taylor Darling for the Democratic nomination in the 6th Senate District. That’s less than 1% of the nearly 100,500 registered Democrats in the district, which includes Hempstead, Freeport, parts of Garden City, and Westbury.

It’s a comparatively high-profile contest featuring a Nassau County legislator (Bynoe) and an assemblywoman (Darling), and yet it’s drawn fewer voters on a percentage basis than the race in neighboring SD7.

In that contest between Democrats Kim Keiserman and Brad Schwartz, 922 votes were cast through the first four days, as per data from the county Board of Elections, equating to a 1.1% turnout rate for the 83,520 registered Democratic voters in the district. The region includes Mineola, Great Neck, Oyster Bay Cove, Syosset, and East Woodbury. Democrats attributed the slightly higher turnout to Keiserman’s aggressive campaigning.

The two Assembly races in Nassau drew smaller crowds. Some 398 voters, or 0.8% of 46,853 registered Democrats in District 18, cast primary votes for candidates Noah Burroughs and Lisa Ortiz. Meanwhile, 262, or 0.6% of 41,239 registered Democratic voters, have turned out to cast primary votes in AD21, the race between Judy Griffin and Patricia Maher.

The highest turnout figure, by a nose, has been in the region’s highest-profile contest — the Suffolk County CD1 race where Democrats Nancy Goroff and John Avlon are vying for that congressional seat. The 2,229 voters over the first four days comprise 1.2% of the district’s 183,036 registered Democrats.

Avlon told the Point that it’s hard to know what to make of the 1.2% figure as a comparison against past turnouts.

“We haven’t had early voting in a June primary election when nothing else was on the ballot,” he said, referring to the absence of higher-profile races on the primary ballot. Still, he insisted he sees signs that voters are “fired up.” He notes that there have been about 6,000 requests in CD1 for “no excuse” absentee ballots for which one does not need a reason such as military service or illness.

With five more days of early voting to tabulate and Election Day itself on Tuesday, June 25, candidates and voters still have time to pump up those numbers toward more respectable totals.

— Dan Janison,  Karthika Namboothiri

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Reference Point

The struggle for racial justice

The Newsday editorial and cartoon from June 20, 1964.

The Newsday editorial and cartoon from June 20, 1964.

As the nation celebrates the Juneteenth holiday that commemorates the day in 1865 when slaves in Texas received word that they had been freed more than two years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, it’s worth noting that it was not the only notable event on the nation’s civil rights timeline that took place on June 19.

On June 19, 1964, the U.S. Senate passed the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964, the last major obstacle to the long-in-the-making bill becoming law. Newsday’s editorial board noted the significance of its passage in a June 20, 1964 editorial called “A Day in History” in which it wrote in the unfortunate language of the day, “The occasion represents one of those few great moments of American history in which any given generation can share. It is the ultimate expression in statute form of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Fourteenth Amendment, both of which stated the majority desire of this country to insure equal treatment for the Negro.”

The Civil Rights Act faced staunch opposition in Congress after President John F. Kennedy sent lawmakers his version — on June 19, 1963. After his assassination that November, his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, helped propel it forward. The House passed the bill easily in February, but a 72-day filibuster led by Southern Democrats stymied progress in the Senate until the filibuster finally was voted down and a compromise bill passed, 73-27. After the House approved the compromise, Johnson signed it into law on July 2.

Newsday’s opinion of the Senate passage included a cartoon that depicted the dome of the Capitol building as a bird cage with its door open and a white bird labeled “CIVIL RIGHTS BILL” flying free.

Anticipating LBJ’s signature, Newsday’s board struck a cautionary tone.

“As with all expressions of the people, the wish does not always equal the result,” the board wrote. “A corner has been reached, but it will not be turned rapidly.”

The board expected — correctly, as it turned out — fierce legal fights over the public accommodations and fair employment sections of the law that it expected would eventually reach the Supreme Court. At that point, the board hoped, “the extremists will have been silenced.”

The board saw danger coming from both sides — those who would continue to block progress toward racial equality and those who would demand progress too quickly.

“Neither side can prevail, and that should be remembered as the heat of summer increases the tempo of demonstrations,” the board wrote in support of a “workable compromise.”

The warning was prescient. Two weeks after Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, the Harlem race riot began in New York City. That marked the beginning of several summers of violent riots in cities across America that were part of the nation’s long quest for racial justice — a quest that continues in one form or another to this day.

— Michael Dobie, Amanda Fiscina-Wells

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