Voters Share What Matters To Them On Primary Day

Photographed by Chandler West.
New York's primary is unusually important this year.

With a late election date, the state's voters usually cast their ballots well into the primary cycle, when the eventual victor is already obvious.

Not this year. With a tight race on both sides of the aisle and a sizable delegate count, the Empire State's results could be the difference between victory and defeat for any one of the candidates.

In the weeks leading up to the election, all five remaining candidates held events trying to woo New Yorkers to their side — from Donald Trump on Staten Island, Ted Cruz in the Bronx, and John Kasich on the campus of Hofstra University, to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton going head to head in Brooklyn, the candidates have been going hard to avoid going home.

And New Yorkers are feeling the enthusiasm. Despite problems with voter registration and criticism of the closed primary system, New Yorkers are eager to get out and vote.

Refinery29 hit the streets of our home turf in New York City to talk to some voters about what's important to them, why they're voting, and who they support in the 2016 primary. Click through to see what they had to say, and check back with us to see what results turn up in both the Democratic and Republican New York primaries.
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Daynelle Spencer, 27

What issues are important to you this election?
"I'm not really cool with Trump and the immigration thing he said. I think that's really absurd and crazy how he wants to build a wall, and stuff like that. I just don't feel like he's for the minorities."

Do you feel that the election will personally impact your life?
"I don't really have family that [are] immigrants, but I have a lot of friends. Just for, like, people in general, I don't think it is a fun idea and it's cool for everybody, even though I personally don't know them."

May we ask who you're voting for?
"Bernie."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Haley Rigney, 30

What are the issues that are important to you in this election?
"I would say taxes, definitely number one. I tend to not really care much about abortion issues, but I would be upset if some people were elected and took that right away for some women. Immigration, definitely. My husband is not from this country, so that's important to me."

Why was it important to you to take the time to get out and vote today?
"Honestly, I just voted because I didn't want Donald Trump. I hate to say this, but there are a lot of issues that are important to me, but I'm disappointed and I didn't really want to vote today because I hate all the candidates, so I made the decision to vote against the person I least wanted to be in the running, because I think he could be really damaging to the country if he was elected."

Who are you voting for?
"John Kasich."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Christian Henry, 18

What are the issues that are important to you in this election?
"Something that's really important to me is to keep out some of the Republican candidates this year who have very harmful rhetoric. I think it's really important to make sure that those kind of people aren’t the leaders of the free world. I also think it's important to keep building off the progress that President Obama has made, making sure that the Affordable Care Act doesn't get repealed."

Why was it important for you to get out and vote today?
"I just think it’s very important to support the American democratic process."

Which primary did you vote in?
"Democratic."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Louis Shannon, 24

What issues are important to you this election?
"Growing up in New York City, LGBTQ equality. The equality act that Sanders is co-sponsoring is really important to me. In a city this open, if you're seeing discrimination against transgender folks, then I can't even imagine what it must be like in the rest of the United States. Especially discrimination in the workforce, or in housing. It's unbelievable."

Why is it important to get out and vote?
"I would say that in practice, it forces you to be aware of your community's issues, and of national issues. It pulls you into a dialogue, so you can't just glaze over it when you're scrolling on your phone. It forces you to be present, I think. Especially in New York, at least in the last three weeks, the energy that we've seen, we've realized that it matters."

Who are you voting for?
"Bernie Sanders."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Alison Greenberg, 44

What issues are important to you this election?
"Integrity, anti-corruption, living wage, decency. And I'm a feminist, but I'm supporting Sanders."

You said "but." Do you feel like he's not a feminist?
"I think that he is a feminist, but I think that there's been a lot of talk about it being time for a woman. I would love to have a woman president, but I support Sanders. And I do think that he is a feminist."

Is there anything else you want to share?
"I just hope that there’s a great turnout. I'm disappointed about the primary system in New York, that people had to designate themselves back in October. And, hopefully, that will be changed for future elections."
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Calee Fussell, 30

What issues are important to you this election?
"I care about the environment, environmental issues in general. I care about equality for women, so equal pay. I do care about some of the things that are going on internationally, but more importantly, domestic issues have been my focus."

Do you feel that the election will personally affect you, considering your focus on domestic issues?
"Not necessarily. I can't say that I've ever experienced that before, so I don't know if that will change. I do think that the bigger picture is important, so even though it might not impact me individually, it's important to have my stance and make my voice known, because I do think that collectively, we will be affected."

Do you mind sharing which primary you're voting in?
"I'm on the Democratic side, so I'm feeling confident that the Democrats will be strong."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Vincent Cangelosi, 51

What issues are important to you this election?

"Healthcare and wage inequality."

Do you feel that the election outcome is going to impact you personally?
"No. I'm more concerned for our society in general."

Would you mind sharing which primary you're voting in?
"Democratic."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Joseph McDonald, 28

What issues are important to you this election?
"I think that number one for me is education. It's something that's very important to me, I graduated college and my post-graduate work with a ton of student debt, and it's something that is very important to me."

"While I think that Bernie Sanders has an interesting position on student debt and the way to solve that problem, I don't think it's necessarily realistic. I think that given the fact that there's a real possibility that the Senate will be Republican-controlled, it's going to be very difficult to get things done. And I'm of the opinion that things need to be done in increments, not necessarily radical change."

Why did you take the time to get out and vote today?
"It's something that's incredibly important. I think that anyone who is relevant in our society and is a contributing member of our society should care, without a doubt, about the election. I don't see a world where people shouldn't care about it. That's not a great answer to the question, but it's hard for me to conceptualize a world where people just don't care about this."

Who are you voting for?
"Hillary Clinton."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Dana Kroplick, 31

What issues are important to you this election?
"The thing is that I actually base my vote on the issues, but also on the breadth of knowledge, priorities, and also nuances and appreciation of nuances. The issues that are important to me are — I'm a Democrat, so finances in politics, education, the environment, foreign policy."

Why did you take the time to get out and vote today?
I've always been a big believer in the Democratic process. I worked on the Obama campaign in '08."

You campaigned for Obama in ’08, but now you say you’re supporting Hillary. What’s changed for you?
"Well, first of all, it's a different opponent. I liked Obama's optimism, but I also liked his pragmatism. At first, it was much more about being able to get things done."

Who are you voting for?
"Hillary Clinton."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Kaitlyn Puglise-Kipley, 31

What issues are important to you this election season?
"I mean, the economy, always. And just being a woman, obviously equal pay. Healthcare is a big issue. I feel like we should have mandatory parental leave, and all that stuff. So these are big issues for me."

Why do you think it's important that people get out and vote in the primaries and not just in the general election?
"I think this is the vote that counts the most, if that means anything. I feel like once you get to the general election, it's already decided. So I feel like this vote counts a little bit more."

Do you feel like the election this year will impact your life personally?
"Definitely. I mean, I don't want to call out any candidates exactly, but if one gets in office, I'm pretty sure I will try to leave the country."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Sarah Kornblatt, 19

Why did you think it was important to vote in the election?
"Because I really believe in the candidate that I voted for, that they are going to do a good job."

Do you mind if we ask which primary you're voting in?
"Democrat."

And what issues are important to you this election?
"Immigration, taxes, anything human rights-related. And college, college tuition."
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Varshita Yerva, 18

What are the issues that are important to you in this election?
"I very much am a supporter of very social issues, and I really think one of the more important things right now is women's health. As of now, they're not really fantastic, and a lot of companies don't offer the benefits they should be offering, so I really think we need a president that can work on that."

Why was it important to you to take the time to get out and vote today?
"Honestly, I think you should. Because it's really important to vote, and young people are important."

Who are you voting for?
"Bernie Sanders."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Luxurie Allsop, 18

What are the issues that are important to you in this election?
"The political justice system in America, and our foreign policies. I did not vote for Hillary Clinton, because I'm actually kind of scared of what might happen if she does become president. I feel like she would start an unnecessary war that we really don’t need right now."

Why was it important to you to take the time to get out and vote today?
"Because I feel like a lot of times people feel like their vote doesn't count, and I feel like that's what a lot of higher powers want us to think. I feel like if more people believed in their civic duty and their right to vote, and they believed that they make a difference, they would actually make a huge impact, and I feel like it starts one person at a time."

Who are you voting for?
"Bernie Sanders."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Lara Bronstein, 19

Why did you take the time to get registered and come out to vote?
"I've always understood that it's really important, especially this being my first election. I never have really kept up with politics, but I see a lot of people saying that — I'm trying to say something that's kind of bad, but like — you choose the least worst, a lot of people are saying that. So that's what I did today, I guess. I chose who I thought was the least worst."

Can we ask what primary you voted in?
"I voted for Bernie Sanders."

What issues are the most important to you?
"I'm a student, so his whole education…all he says about education, to me, is pretty important. That's what really pushed me to do it. My sister is close to my age, she's a year younger than me, can't vote yet, but she's very involved with politics, and she always explains to me all these pressing issues that we need to take care of. Yeah, I thought that — it sounds so bad, but just the least worst in this case, I definitely think is Bernie Sanders. As a human being, in his policies. I think they sound good, I’m not quite sure in practice. So we'll see how that is. But they sound the most promising to me."
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Photographed by Chandler West.
Celia Shaefer, 52

What are the issues that are important to you in this election?
"Breaking up the banks — I think Wall Street's out of control — is one. Minimum wage, raising the minimum wage. It's mostly economic things. I would love to see a first woman president, but I think NAFTA was ill-considered. So foreign trade, getting fresh thinking in there. Having an emphasis on campaign finance reform. I think those are the big ones."

Why was it important to you to take the time to get out and vote today?
"Pushing Hillary to the left. I have a funny feeling that Sanders probably is not going to be our nominee, but when I was a kid, you used to be able to push the platform so that you'd get the centrist candidate to support a little bit more of the lefty issues."

Who are you voting for?
"Bernie Sanders."
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