If you're one of the more than 4.6 million New York City residents who are registered to vote, today is the day you can determine the destiny of the world you live in. There will be no free hot pot, there can be no free hot pot, but suffrage is its own reward.
May I vote?
Only if you are registered to vote. Not sure if you are registered? Check your status here.
If it's your first time voting, it's wise to bring some form of ID—a driver's license, a utility bill, etc. If you're homeless, and registered to vote, you can vote.
If you're a convicted felon on parole, there's a strong chance you can vote, despite what you may have heard or read from the New York City Campaign Finance Board. Check here or ask your parole officer if you've received a “voting pardon” under Governor Andrew Cuomo's executive order.
Forget to register this time? Begin the process of registering for the next upcoming election here. Consider registering with a political party now if you want to vote in that party's 2020's primary election—the deadline to register with a political party to vote in 2019's primary passed on October 12, 2018. (Voting reform is often talked about in Albany but rarely is anything done about it. More on that later.)
Where can I vote?
When can I vote?
Statewide, polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. If you are inside your polling station at 9 p.m., you have the right to vote.
What if I can't make it to the polls?
The deadline for an absentee ballot has passed, but in cases of "an accident or sudden illness," you may send a representative to your borough BOE office with a completed absentee ballot application to receive an absentee ballot; that ballot must be received by 9 p.m. on Election Day. You can read more on absentee ballots here.
Election Day is November 6th and we want to help New Yorkers get out and vote! Pedal to the polls on Tuesday with a FREE Citi Bike Day Pass!
Select Day Pass in the Citi Bike app and enter the code “BIKETOVOTE” to claim! pic.twitter.com/T9KVP5IgLf
— Citi Bike (@CitiBikeNYC) November 3, 2018
Am I allowed to take Citi Bike up on its free Election Day ride to the polls, or use similar freebies with Uber and Lyft? Or is that illegal? What about those free Amazon gift cards and free hot pot if you flash an "I Voted" sticker?
"Facilitating voting (i.e. a ride to polls, information on how to get to polls) in my opinion is not an inducement," says John Conklin, the director of public information for the New York State Board of Elections, tells Gothamist in an email after consulting with BOE attorneys. "Free lunch if you vote is an inducement. Half-off movie tickets if you have an “I-voted” sticker is an inducement. These are prohibited."
PSA: While 99 Favor Taste has discontinued their (illegal) promotion to give customers with an "I Voted" sticker a free meal of unlimited hot pot or BBQ, you can eat free there on your birthday, or three days before or three days after your birthday if your party totals 4.
What do I do if my polling site descends into chaos? Or if the line wraps around the building a few times? Or if I see political volunteers doing illegal electioneering? Or if I suspect that something shady is going on?
“All eligible New York voters should be able to freely exercise their right to vote,” Attorney General Barbara Underwood says in a statement. “If any New Yorker encounters barriers to voting or other problems at their poll sites, please contact my office immediately.”
Voters with issues can contact AG Underwood's voting hotline at 800-771-7755 or via email at email@example.com between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. The hotline will be staffed by the AG's Civil Right’s Bureau.
Our friends at ProPublica's Electionland are also accepting tips on voting problems and experiences—text the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply). On WhatsApp, aend the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 1-850-909-8683. Or use Facebook messenger.
(You can also send harrowing tales to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Is it true that we'll have to tear our ballots before scanning them? I'm kind of scared.
Be not afraid! Yes, for the first time ever, New York City voters in every borough but Staten Island will be handed a giant ballot (don't forget to flip it over to make some hard choices on changing the City Charter!) that must be separated along a perforated line and inserted into the machine in two parts.
"What I'm most concerned about, is the confusion this might create," says Susan Lerner, the executive director for Common Cause New York. "First of all, the voter has to separate the parts of the ballot, so that's going to be confusing, and I hope that there isn't some very 'helpful' poll worker who separates them in advance."
Lerner cautions that while the poll workers can explain to voters how the procedure works, they cannot tear the ballots in half and insert them for you. Supervisors of polling sites have been trained on the new procedure, but individual poll workers are usually trained in August, before the BOE knew they were going to have to set up the ballot this way.
"Also, if the voter makes a mistake, they have to return both parts of the ballot, even if they fill out half of it correct. There are going to be extra halves floating around, and that is going to be confusing," Lerner added.
After the 2010 election, New York City voters complained that their ballots were too confusing, so then-State Assemblymember Brian Kavanaugh proposed The Voter Friendly Ballot Act, to, in Lerner's words, "eliminate the 1890s design requirements that are currently in our election law, and substitute researched usability standards," like the use of ALL CAPS FOR CANDIDATES' NAMES, and those little fingers that point to the name of the candidate.
"Right now, the requirements are very rigid, and they are designed base on outdated graphic requirements for the lever machines," Lerner said.
Of course, the Voter Friendly Ballot Act died a quiet death in Albany, like many election reforms before it and since.
May I take a ballot selfie with my extra-long ballot and post it to Instagram along with some kind of clever caption? How can I turn my civic duty into likes?
If your ballot is blank, you can take a picture of it and post it to social media without incident. But a federal judge ruled last year that you may not take a photo of your completed ballot. The judge also upheld New York City's ban on photography in polling sites (for journalists, the rules and guidelines can be a little trickier). Just take a selfie with the sticker on!
Who's running? And who should I vote for?
Gothamist and WNYC have a voter guide that we've built with our friends at Gotham Gazette, City Limits, and NJ Spotlight. The City has a guide to the candidates running in your district here. Don't know your district? Get that here, or see your sample ballot here.
There are a slew of statewide races—will Governor Andrew Cuomo win a third term over his Republican challenger and Dutchess County executive Marc Molinaro? (Molinaro has gained a little ground in the most recent poll.) Public Advocate and Democrat Letitia James and Republican attorney Keith Wofford are both poised to be the state's first black Attorney General, though James is the clear favorite. U.S. Senator and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand is running for her second full term against the Republican private equity executive Chele Farley (the two just had a remarkably substantive debate for New York standards).
A few crucial State Senate districts will determine whether Democrats can control both houses of the State Legislature. In South Brooklyn, Andrew Gounardes is running a tight race to unseat longtime Republican Senator Marty Golden.
On Staten Island, Max Rose is one of a handful of Democrats across the Empire State who believe they can help flip the House of Representatives—he's been running a tough (and costly) battle against Rep. Dan Donovan.
Don't forget the judges! Learn more about them here.
What about those three ballot questions?
For all of WNYC's and Gothamist's election coverage, go here. Check back later in the day for our primary day liveblog (email tips and photos to email@example.com), and tonight and tomorrow for results and analysis.