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Voting 101

Our FAQs below will help you understand voting terms, the parties, the process, and more! 

How do I register to vote?

If you are over 18, or will be 18 on Election Day, then you can register to vote. Click HERE to register in New York State. You must update, mail, or deliver this form at least 25 days before the election you want to vote in, otherwise, you can't vote in that election. 

Do I have to update my voter registration when I move, change my name, or change political party affiliation? 

Yes, please! Click HERE to re-register with your new information and you'll be all set.  

Do I have to be in a particular party?

No, but we hope that you'll choose to become a Democrat! If you choose a party affiliation, that means you can vote in a primary for that party. Please see the next FAQ to learn about primaries.

What is a primary?

New York State political parties offer closed primaries. In a closed primary, you can vote only in the primary your affiliated party. For example, a voter registered as a Democrat can only vote in a Democrat primary. The primary election is held on the last Tuesday of June.
In 2024, there is an additional primary election to determine the party candidate for President. This Presidential Primary election will be held on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

When is the last day to change my political party?

In New York State, voters can change their political party by updating their voter registration. If you change your party enrollment after February 15th, your change will not go into effect until seven days after the June Primary election.

What is a midterm election?

Midterm elections give the you the opportunity to vote for members of Congress as well as state and local representatives, like governor or local councilmembers; these elections occur midway through a president’s term. They are also called an off-year election.

What is a general election?

That's the day that you vote for national officeholders like president and vice president, as well as state and local offices. 

When is election day?

Election Day is the annual day set by law for the general elections of federal, state, and local public officials. It is ALWAYS "the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November" equaling the Tuesday occurring within November 2 to November 8.

What does the term "down ballot" mean?

Down-ballot and down-ticket are two words that describe running or voting for offices listed below the "most important" —typically national— race on a ballot. For instance, in a presidential election, Senate and House seats and contests for state and local offices are down-ballot (or down-ticket) because their outcomes are often influenced by the turnout for the presidential race at the top of the ballot. 

What is Early Voting?

You can vote in an election up to ten days before Election Day. In New York, in person Early Voting starts two Saturdays before election day and ends on the Sunday before election. Learn more HERE

What is Early Voting by Mail?

In New York, any registered voter may cast their ballot early by mail. Apply to vote Early By Mail by clicking HERE

What is an Affidavit Ballot?

An "Affidavit Ballot" is a failsafe ballot that a voter uses to cast their vote at a poll site when their voter registration information is not available, missing or incorrect. To cast their ballot, the voter completes an "affidavit oath." The affidavit ballot looks like the regular ballot and after making their choices, the voter encloses the ballot in the envelope containing their signed oath. After the election, officials research the voter's information and if they determine the voter was eligible to cast the ballot, it is extracted from the envelope and counted.

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