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Op-Ed: I Want You to Have a Voice This Election Season

Voters cast their ballot at a polling site in Queens on Election Day Nov. 3, 2020. (Michael Appleton/ Mayoral Photography Office)

Feb. 10, 2021 Op-Ed By Brent O’Leary

Do you want to have a say as to who the next mayor is—or who your next city council member will be?

If so, I urge you to check your party registration and make sure you are registered as a Democrat. The deadline to do so is Feb. 14, and I want to make sure you are heard.

Unfortunately, our primary system cuts off the voices of millions of New Yorkers who are not affiliated with a major political party—particularly the Democratic party.

In a blue city like ours, our representatives are typically determined by the outcome of the Democratic Party primaries. Therefore, if you want to have influence on your future representative you should register as a Democrat.

I understand many New Yorkers choose to remain independent when they register to vote, feeling that the Democratic party doesn’t represent their views. I know the Democratic Party is far from perfect.

Photo: Brent O’Leary is a candidate running for the 26th district council seat (Photo: olearyforcouncil)

But by registering as a Democrat, you can help shape the party’s future and take it in a better direction.

While the majority of people are registered as Democrats in New York City, millions are not.

In fact, the second most common party affiliation across our New York City is “blank,” with over one million voters unregistered in a party.

In Queens’ 26th Council District, which I’m running to represent, more than one in five eligible voters are blanks, according to Board of Elections enrollment data. These people will have no power in selecting the candidates who will be in the general election.

In truth, unaffiliated voters aren’t the problem – our state’s closed primary system is what cuts millions out of the democratic process. I support moving to open primaries, but in the meantime, we have to do our best to make the 2021 elections as democratic and representative as possible.

Millions of New Yorkers will be disenfranchised unless they change their party registrations before the upcoming February 14th deadline.

I ask you to add your voice to the process and empower yourself and our community.

If you are not sure about your registration, I ask you check here. If you are not registered as a Democrat, I urge you to do so and register here.

Brent O’Leary is a candidate running in the 26th District Council race. The 26th district includes Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City and parts of Astoria.

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