Young Voters Yield Power in New York Gubernatorial Race

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Crime, inflation, abortion – these are some of the issues among young voters and experts say they’re the ones to make or break the election of New York’s next governor.

This flurry of issues are the things that concern them most, so who has what it takes to make their future and the future of New York better?

“Crime is number one for me,” said St. John’s University junior Alexa Salerno. “I had an internship over the summer and I was commuting back and forth from the city and I never felt safe, I was downtown going back and forth to City Hall and I never felt safe.”

Alexa is a registered democrat, but Lee Zeldin has her vote, his tough on crime policies are what matters most to her.

“Zeldin has a really fresh perspective that New York needs, “she said. “I think it’s going to be very close but I think Zeldin’s going to win, I don’t know many people voting for Hochul, I think she’s had her time in office and it showed through in the debate what she’s gotten done and what she lacks.”

Alexa’s not unique in her class of St. John’s students, senior Brian Lakhtarnik is also crossing party lines to cast his first ever vote.

“People like me we’re in the middle of both spectrums, there’s a middle ground, people like me, my generation supports both sides so it’s hard to stick to a party on their agendas,” he said.

At this age, the students in this class make up one-third of the country’s electorate – a power their professor, political analyst Brian Browne says will be impacting this and future elections in a big way.

“Young people are very fluid, you really need strong personalities to appeal to them and that’s hard to find, young voters are impatient, they want things done right away but politics turn slowly,” Browne said.

A record-breaking number of young voters have turned out to the polls during the last two elections, so all trends point to 18 to 29-year-olds pulling their influence again. But these young adults are voting for the person – not the party.

They’re also thinking more critically ahead of casting their ballots. Browne says when it comes to counting ballots – you can’t count them out.

“They’re also sophisticated voters and they have breadth and expanse on different issues and ideas and what most struck me about today was the concern about the future of our democracy but what do they do with that and their power to vote,” he said.

As they turn away from party politics and embrace their individuality – young voters are making for what could be a big surprise in New York’s tight gubernatorial race. Polls close at 9 p.m.