Getting out The Vote
Voting is one of the best ways we can make progress on issues that matter—yet voter participation in New York State is historically low. GOTV is an important opportunity for our communities to make a difference by ensuring that everyone’s voice is part of shaping the future.
This November, there are several local offices on the ballot. You have three options to vote in the upcoming general elections in New York:
1. Vote by mail by requesting an absentee ballot online, by email, fax, or postmarked mail by October 18, or in person by November 1. After completing your ballot, it must be postmarked no later than November 2.
Request an absentee ballot online:
2. Vote early between October 23-31. Find your polling place.
3. Vote in person on November 2. Find your polling place.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What’s on the ballot on November 2?
Local offices in cities and counties across New York State are on the ballot, including:
- Albany, New York – Mayor and city council
- Buffalo, New York – Mayor and city court judges
- New York, New York – Mayor, city council, public advocate, and comptroller
- Bronx County, New York – Borough president and civil court judges
- Erie County, New York – County legislature, comptroller, sheriff, and family court judge
- Kings County, New York – Borough president and civil court judges
- New York County, New York – Borough president and civil court judges
- Queens County, New York – Borough president and civil court judges
- Richmond County, New York – Borough president and civil court judge
- District 30 – Senate Special Election
- District 86 – Assembly Special election
- Proposal 1 – Makes changes to the redistricting process in New York
- Proposal 2 – Creates a state constitutional right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment
- Proposal 3 – Authorizes the legislature to pass a law for same-day voter registration
- Proposal 4 – Removes some restrictions to absentee voting
- Proposal 5 – Increases the NYC Civil Court’s jurisdiction from civil cases involving $25,000 to $50,000
Am I eligible to vote?
To register to vote, you have to be:
- A citizen of the United States (born in the U.S. or naturalized). That includes people who were born in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- A resident of New York State for at least 30 days before the election.
- At least 18 years of age by Election Day (that includes if you turn 18 on Election Day!)
- Not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction (unless you have been pardoned or restored your rights of citizenship)
What is ranked choice voting, and how can I cast my vote correctly? (Applies to New York City only)
Ranked choice voting allows New York City voters to rank candidates by preference instead of choosing just one. It works like this:
- 1st choice: The candidate you love
- 2nd choice: The candidate you like
- 3rd or 4th choice: The candidate you like slightly less
- 5th choice: The candidate you can stand
Why should I rank candidates?
- Even if your favorite candidate doesn’t win, you still have a voice, and determine who’s elected.
- You can vote your conscience without worrying that you’re wasting your vote or electing a candidate you don’t like.
- Ranking a 2nd, 3rd, etc. choice will never impact your favorite candidate.
Can I give different candidates the same ranking?
No. When the ballot scanner reads multiple candidates ranked the same, it will not count your ballot.
What happens if I make a mistake?
Contact your local NYC board of elections at 1-866-Vote-NYC (1-866-868-3693) and they will be happy to help, or get you a replacement ballot, if needed.
To learn more, visit Rank The Vote NYC.
How can I protect my health and still vote during the COVID-19 pandemic?
New York State is making necessary changes to ensure that voters are safe while participating in upcoming elections. This year, every registered voter will be able to vote by mail by requesting an absentee ballot. But you have to take action by October 18 in order to have a ballot sent to you.
If you live in NYC, there are several ways to request a ballot:
- Online at nycabsentee.com
- Mail an application to your borough’s Board of Elections (the Board of Elections will also mail an absentee ballot application to every eligible voter)
- Call 1.866.VOTE.NYC (1.866.868.3692)
- Email an application to Apply4Absentee@boe.nyc
- Fax an application to 212.487.5349
Your ballot will then be mailed to you at the address you include on your request.
The application must be completed and returned in order to receive a mail-in ballot. Voters can mark the reason for their request as “temporary illness,” which now covers the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Don’t live in NYC? Learn more about absentee voting in New York State. You can also find your County Board of Elections’ contact information at elections.ny.gov/CountyBoards.html, and contact them by phone, email, fax, mail, or in person to request an absentee ballot.
Are there other reasons I can vote by absentee ballot?
You can vote by absentee ballot if you are a registered voter and cannot make it to your polling site on Election Day because of your:
- Incarceration (other than convicted felony), or
- Illness, disability, hospitalization, or residence in a long-term care facility
Is there a difference between voting absentee and voting by mail?
Absentee voting allows you to vote by mail rather than going to the polls and casting your vote in person. All states allow people to cast their votes via mail-in or absentee ballots. Some, like New York, require voters to give a reason before allowing them to vote by mail.
By when do I mail back my absentee ballot?
When your ballot arrives, read it carefully and follow the instructions to complete it and return it. You should fill out and return your ballot as soon as possible. All ballots must be postmarked by November 2.
Can I request an absentee ballot in person?
Generally, yes, you can request a ballot in person by visiting your County Board of Elections. However, you should contact your local County Board of Elections before visiting in person. Find contact information for your County Board of Elections to request a ballot.
Can I vote early?
All registered voters can participate in early voting, which starts 10 days before Election Day. There are several benefits to voting early, including shorter wait times and less crowding at your polling site. The early voting period for the general election is October 23-31. Find your early voting polling location.
Can I vote on Election Day?
You can vote in person on Election Day, November 2. On Election Day, poll sites are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Voters who are in line by 9 p.m. can cast a ballot. Please note that your polling location will take precautions to ensure that the site is clean and safe to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Also remember that wearing a mask, washing your hands, or using hand sanitizer after touching surfaces in public spaces (including voting machines) is a smart way to stay healthy, whenever you vote. Find your polling place.
How can I stay up to date on elections with The Center?
Fill out the pledge form above and keep an eye out for email alerts about ballot deadlines, election dates, and other information on civic engagement. We’ll make sure you have the information you need so that you never miss an opportunity to be heard!
I want to do more. How can I help?
Volunteer with The Center’s RiseOut Action Team to join our Get Out The Vote efforts, as we work to provide accurate voting information and underscore the importance of elections for our community.
The Center is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization. We do not endorse any political party or candidates.