After a day of record-breaking voter turnout, incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo defeated ultra-progressive competitor Cynthia Nixon yesterday to gain the Democratic nomination for governor of New York.
The primary brought more than 1.5 million people to the polls — more than three times as many as the 2014 primary. Among the voters were several NYU students passionate about issues of representation, prison reform and public transit.
“I was going to vote for Cuomo until about an hour before I went to the polls,” NYU sophomore Alex Domb said. “I’m really skeptical about non-politicians running for office, especially with what we have going on in the White House right now. But I learned over the course of the day by talking to other voters that Cynthia Nixon is not as under-informed as Donald Trump. She’s been activist for several years and stands for the things I really care about.”
Like many students and New York City residents, Domb said reform of the subway system was one of the main reasons he voted the way he did.
“Cynthia Nixon is also a New Yorker and she understands New York City issues,” Domb said. “The subways are a huge part of life that affect everyone in New York and they’ve just been deteriorating. She’s really pinned that on Cuomo’s back that he hasn’t been able to fix the subway and in fact it’s gotten worse.”
NYU sophomore and first time voter, Arvind Sindhwani, said he cares a lot about the city’s infrastructure and funding the MTA.
“I’m an urban design student, so I’m very pro-public transportation,” Sindhwani said. “Cuomo’s position on the MTA made me lean towards Cynthia Nixon. Cuomo doesn’t use taxpayer money in the best interest of the people.”
Domb and Sindhwani both noted that Nixon’s election would have been a symbolic victory for underrepresented groups.
“It would be amazing if we had more women elected to office,” Domb said. “And Cynthia Nixon is a gay woman, as well, so that would be great to have more of that representation in positions of power.”
Domb said he was slightly disappointed by Cuomo’s victory but he isn’t too worried about the direction of the state’s policies.
“They’re both Democrats with progressive policies,” Domb said. “I don’t like how corporate backed he is but he’s done a lot for reforming the prison system in New York. I hope he keeps doing stuff like that.”
College-aged young people have a notoriously low voter turnout; Domb recognizes the large portion of his peers that aren’t active politically.
“This is our responsibility,” he said. “There’s no excuse not to vote. I don’t see it as justifiable to complain about local issues if you’re not making your voice heard. It’s the only way we can hold our leaders accountable for their promises.”
Though students registered to vote in New York have the ability to participate in their civic duties, the university’s large percentage of international students were unable to take to the polls on Thursday, but they still had strong opinions on the state’s future.
NYU junior Yasmin Gulec, a Turkish citizen, supported Cuomo in the lead up to the primary.
“I like Cuomo’s policies and I have this pet peeve of people who didn’t study politics going into politics,” Gulec said. “I feel like you have to study in a field to do well in it. Cuomo has the experience and he’s done some great things.”
Gulec said she sometimes feels a disconnect living in a country where she cannot vote, and she described the apathy many international students have toward American politics.
“I live in New York and when there are issues that concern New York, of course I want to take part in it,” she said. “But, at the end of the day, I think a lot of international students just don’t really care because we can leave [the U.S.] if we want to.”