“I’m Very Angry”: New Yorkers Say What Drove Them to the Polls

Democracy: a pillar of America that once felt guaranteed. The 2016 election, the January 6th insurrection, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the slew of conspiracies about hackers and stolen elections in between have all contributed to the cracks in the once-sacred foundation of our not-so-United States of America. The divide is palpable and the threats to basic human rights are real. So real that yesterday’s 2022 midterm elections, one could argue, presented a pivotal moment in local and national politics. Voters are not just electing legislators to warm a seat; they’re deciding on LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s bodily autonomy, planet earth, inflation, even the notion of a country with liberty and justice for all. Though the congressional races in some states, like Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia, are too-close-to-call, New Yorkers elected the incumbent Kathy Hochul to the governorship over the thinly-veiled-Trumper Lee Zeldin, who’d campaigned on an extremist, anti-abortion agenda. Yesterday, New Yorkers wondered if the Empire State could really turn red and elect its first Republican governor since George Pataki. As it turned out, Hochul prevailed by some 300,000 votes. But before our heroic election volunteers started counting ballots, we ventured out to polling places in Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan to find out exactly which issues were driving the state’s voters to the pollsand to settle the question on every New Yorker’s mind: do the rats really run this city? Read below to find out.




28, New Yorker

What brings you to the polls today?

My civic duty.

Who runs this city: you or the rats?

I do.

Robert Espinosa

32, Brooklyn, six years in New York

Why did you come to the polls today?

I felt that I needed to vote defensively against Lee Zeldin and the ascendant far-right that he represents. We’re nowhere near where we need to be, but we can’t afford to cede any ground on issues such as bail reform, immigrant and LGBTQ rights, and people’s right to abortion.

Who runs this city: you or the rats?

The rats are here to stay, man. I think it might be time to make an allegiance with them.


18, New Yorker


Alright, so why did you feel the need to come vote?

I recently moved back up to New York State in August and I’ve been living in New York City since. This is my first time voting. I just want to see the change that I want to see in this city and I feel like there’s a lot of injustice still in this world. So I want to do my part and put my vote to use.

Do you have anything to say to other people that are 18 and don’t feel the need to vote?

I definitely would say vote, because although you think it doesn’t do anything, it actually does a lot more than you think. It actually gives an opportunity for people that you may not agree with to get ahead in the polls. So definitely do your research.

Jan Lee

New Yorker


What brought you to the polls today?

I rarely ever miss voting in elections, particularly for the New York elections, so I tend to participate in voting in general.

Who runs the city: you or the rats?

We do. We do.


27, New Yorker

What main issue or concern brought you to the polls today?

All of it? Everything.

Are you hoping that anything changes in particular with your vote?

Climate change, racial equality in housing, affordable housing.

Who actually runs this city: you or the rats?

The rats [Laughs].

Joy Joetinging

21, three years in New York

Is there one main concern or issue that brought you to the polls today?

I mean, mainly issues on things like abortion, issues that concern my bodily autonomy as a woman, that’s what’s really driving me to the polls right now for the midterms. Especially when we’re electing, you know, the Supreme Court candidates. I mean there’s not really much variation or choice in who we’re electing for the Supreme Court, but I feel it’s my right to vote. I have a say in what I want.

Who actually runs the city: you or the rats?

I think it’s the cockroaches. I really do. Those things really don’t die.

Latoya Leopold Albert


What brought you out to vote today?

Well, I’m trying. I’m not at the moment because I came to the polling site where I normally voted and they told me that my district was changed and I was not notified of the change. So now I have to walk to the district that they tell me, which is 900 St. Mark’s Avenue.

How do you feel about not being notified of your district change?

I’m very angry, very angry.

And you’re going to try to vote today?

Yes, I’m going to try.


32, Brooklyn, nine-and-a-half years in New York

Is there one main concern or issue that brought you to the polls today?

Just making sure that the people of New York are represented, everyone in the neighborhood, everything that is needed in Brooklyn. Because the more people that vote, the more we can be accounted for. Whether that’s abortion rights, or something else. I’m a teacher, so I care a lot about what progress can happen in education and in schools. What kind of representative am I to the future that I am helping create if I’m not voting myself?

Who actually runs the city: you or the rats?

Oh, I say me, I think. I’m a teacher and I’m an artist, and again, what kind of arts advocate am I if I don’t think that the artists are running the city?


38, St. Thomas, 10 years in New York

Is there one main concern or issue that brought you to the polls today?

To vote Kathy Hochul out. I’m not here to vote Democrat, for sure.

Who actually runs the city: you or the rats?

I feel like definitely the rats. There’s rats in the city every-freaking-where you turn. I was at the 42nd Street subway stop and l’ve never seen that many rats in my life.

Faith Masi

30, Brooklyn, nine years in New York

What issue/concern brought you to the polls today?

Honestly, I am concerned about abortion access. After Roe vs. Wade was overturned in June, I am worried that Republicans will limit access to reproductive healthcare in historically blue states. Today, I voted along the Working Families Party Line. Ballot Proposal 4 was interestingit asked voters if the City should measure the true cost of living in NYC. I will be interested to read the findings and hopefully the results will lead to higher wages for New Yorkers. 

Who really runs this city: the rats or you?

Me. I have been working in person since January 2021 and I’m always tooling around the city. I love dining out, biking, and playing tennis. On the weekends, I dance and get together with my circle. Last Saturday, my friend Paurro was DJ-ing at Nowadays and the scene was sensational. To be honest, I think feral cats in my neighborhood eat the rats. Gnarly!