2016 Elections

Q: Will the outcome of the election be affected by Dr. Jill Stein’s (Green Party Candidate for President) request for a recount in three states?

A: A recount is not expected to affect the outcome in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania or nationwide. The first recount will take place in Wisconsin and representatives of the other candidates may observe the process.

Q: Do all 50 states use the same voting system?

A: No – every state chooses its own system. New York uses an optical scan system with a paper ballot, which could be recounted if necessary. Pennsylvania uses direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems without voter verified paper trails in 47 counties. The remaining 20 counties use optical scanner tabulators with paper ballots or some combination of DREs with optical scan tabulators.

Q: Should all states use the same system?

A: Experts believe that using a variety of systems could prevent system wide hacking. However, all voting machines should have a verifiable system as we have in New York.

Q: Should all states audit their elections every year?

A: Information provided by audits would aid states when they consider replacing obsolescent touch screen machines with alternative voting systems.

Q: What does a college have to do with the 2016 Presidential Election?

A: The Electoral College chooses the President and Vice President of the United States. According to the Constitution: “electors shall meet in their respective States and vote by ballot for President and Vice President.” (Amendment XII)” and the day on which they give their votes shall be the same throughout the United States.” (Article II). These quadrennial formal gatherings in each state capitol are known as a “college.”

Q: How are these electors chosen?

A: The Constitution allows each state legislature to decide how their electors are chosen. In some states they are selected by state legislators. In others they are elected by voters in Congressional districts, or elected by all the voters in the state. In New York the candidates and the state parties name the electors. They are usually party officials, elected officials, or leading citizens enrolled in the party. The political parties or independent candidates in each state submit a list of individuals pledged to their presidential candidate. (An elector cannot be a member of Congress or hold federal office). Serving as an elector is considered an honor, a reward for faithful service.

Q: Could we elect a President who is not from one of the two major parties?

A: It is possible but not likely, as the present winner-take-all system supports the presidential two-party system. Today the political party or independent candidate who wins the most popular votes within a state, even by only one vote, wins all of the electoral votes from that state. Maine and Nebraska have variations of proportional representation

Q: How will the electoral college work in 2016?

A: On November 8th, voters in each state will cast their ballots for the party state electors representing their choice for president and vice-president. Most state ballots say “Electors for” each set of candidates rather than listing the individual electors on each slate. On December 19th the winning slate of electors will meet in each state capitol and cast their votes. On January 6, 2017 the sealed votes from each state capitol will be opened before a joint session of Congress. The results are certified and the nation has a newly elected president.

Q: How many votes in the electoral college does it take to win the Presidential nomination?

A: The magic number is 270. Amajority of at least one more than half is required. The total number of votes in the Electoral College is 538 since there are 100 senators and 435 representatives plus three electors for the District of Columbia.

Q: How many electoral votes does New York State have?

A: New York has 29 electoral votes. Each state has electors equal to the number of its U.S. Senators (always 2) plus the number of its U.S. Representatives. This number may change after each census because the number of each state’s representatives in Congress is based on the census count taken every decade. As a result of the 2010 census the states with over 20 electoral votes are: CA-55, TX-38, FL-29, IL-20, and PA-20. The following each have the minimum three electors: Alaska, Delaware, North and South Dakota, Montana, Vermont, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia

Q: Must electors vote for their party's candidate?

A: Although most states have laws binding electors, this is not mandated by federal law. There have been cases of “defector electors” but such votes have never affected the final outcome of an election.

Q: If neither candidate gets at least 270 electoral votes, how are the President and Vice President chosen?

A: For the presidency: In January, the newly elected House of Representatives, voting by states—one state equals one vote—elects the president from among the three candidates who received the most electoral votes. A majority of votes (26) is required. (This happened in 1824 with the election of John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson, the candidate who had received the largest number of popular votes). For the vice presidency: The Senate picks from the top two vice presidential candidates. Each senator has one vote. A majority (51) of the whole Senate is needed for election. It is possible, particularly in a three-way race, that the House might select a president from one party, and the Senate could select the vice-president from another.

Q: Why did the framers set up such a complicated system?

A: Some delegates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia favored a direct election by the people while others believed that the president should be elected by the national legislature (Congress). The idea of election by an Electoral College was a compromise.

Q: Why don't we change the system? 

A: Proposals for change have been made, especially in years when third parties or independent candidates received substantial popular votes. A constitutional amendment would be required to eliminate or change the system, but state legislatures may alter the process by which their electors are chosen. The League of Women Voters opposes the Electoral College and advocates a direct election by popular vote and supports the ‘National Popular Vote’, a proposal that has received the support of eleven states including New York State. The National Popular Vote proposal is that each state’s electors would vote for the candidate who won the national popular vote even if that candidate had not carried their state. This system might not require a constitutional amendment and could be effective if states having a total of 270 electoral votes approved it. Those in favor of the current Electoral College process say that it contributes to political stability by encouraging a two-party system of representation. Those in the “if it ain’t broke” school point out that every twentieth century president won the popular vote and Electoral College vote. However, in 2000 this was not the case. The Democratic candidate Al Gore won the popular vote and the Republican candidate George W. Bush won the electoral vote. On December 12, 2000 the United States Supreme Court ruled George W. Bush the winner.


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2017 Elections

A Special Election for State Senate District 30 (encompassing Harlem, East Harlem (El Barrio), Upper West Side, Hamilton Heights, Morningside Heights, and Washington Heights) will be held on Tuesday May 23rd. This seat was vacated when Bill Perkins (the former incumbent) won the election for City Council District 9 in a February 2017 Special Election.

All registered voters in District 30 may vote and polls will be open on May 23rd from 6am to 9pm. The last date to register in person to vote in this election is Saturday May 13th; register at the Board of Elections Borough office at 200 Varick St, 10th Floor (9am-9pm). Mailed-in registration forms must be postmarked by April 28th and received by May 3rd. Changes of address must be received by May 3rd.

Mayor, City Council, Comptroller, Public Advocate, Borough Presidents, and Judges

Ballot Measure: Voters determine whether New York will hold a constitutional convention.

A state constitutional convention is a gathering of elected delegates who propose revisions and amendments to a state constitution. According to Section 2 of Article XIX of the New York Constitution, the question as to whether to hold a constitutional convention is automatically placed on the statewide general election ballot every twenty years, starting in 1957. The measure was most recently on the 1997 ballot, where it was defeated 63-37%.


The Mayor serves as the city's chief executive, and is responsible for proposing a budget, signing legislation into law, appointing departmental directors and committee members and overseeing the city's day-to-day operations. The mayor also possesses veto powers.

City Council 

The New York City Council is the city's primary legislative body. It is responsible for adopting the city budget, approving mayoral appointees, overseeing the use of municipal properties, levying taxes and making or amending city laws, policies and ordinances.

Public Advocate

The New York City Public Advocate serves as a direct link between the electorate and city government, providing oversight for city agencies, investigating citizens' complaints about city services and making proposals to address perceived shortcomings or failures of those services.  The Public Advocate is a non-voting member of the New York City Council with the right to introduce and co-sponsor legislation.

Borough President

A borough president is an elective office in each of the five boroughs of New York City. Borough presidents serve as ceremonial leaders who advocate for their boroughs on key issues. Borough presidents advise the Mayor, comment on land-use items in their borough, advocate borough needs in the annual municipal budget process, appoint community boards, chair the borough boards, and serve as ex officio members of various boards and committees.


Candidates for Special Election City Council District 9 (formerly Inez Dickens)
The City Council district covers Harlem, parts of the Upper West Side and Morningside Heights.

Charles Cooper, a former Community Board 9 vice-chair and businessman

Mamadou Drame, a community activist

Donald D. Fields, a businessman

Pierre Gooding, former general counsel for Success Academy

Troy Outlaw, a former City Council aide

Dawn Simmons, a teacher and social worker

Athena Moore, an aide to the Manhattan Borough President

Larry Scott Blackmon, the former Deputy Commissioner for Community Outreach at the city Parks Department

Bill Perkins, State Senator

Marvin Holland, political director for Transit Workers Union Local 100

Todd R. Stevens

Shanette M. Gray



Potential Mayoral Candidates (subject to change)

Bill de Blasio, incumbent Mayor of New York City (Dem)

Bo Dietl, former Fox News contributor and former New York City Police Department detective (Dem)

Josh Thompson, education activist (Dem)

Darren Dione Aquino, actor and disabled rights activist (Rep)

Michel Faulkner, pastor and former New York Jets player (Rep)

Paul Massey, real estate businessman (Rep)


* Only voters enrolled in a party having a primary may vote in a Primary Election

** All registered voters in the district having a Special Election or General Election may vote

To check your voter party enrollment visit the New York State Voter Lookup.

Voter Guide

Visit our online voter guide at vote411.org. Enter your address to find your polling place, build your ballot with our online voters' guide and much more! With our voters' guide you can see the races on your ballot, compare candidates' positions side-by-side, and print out a "ballot" indicating your preferences as a reminder and take it with you to the polls on Election Day. Check out our resources for military and overseas voters.

New York State Judicial Candidate Voter Guide on nycourts.gov

Become a poll worker

Poll workers (election inspectors) conduct assigned duties at a polling site on Election Day. Duties can include issuing ballots to registered voters, registering voters, monitoring the voting equipment, explaining how to mark the ballot or use the voting equipment or counting votes. All positions are paid including the required training.

Apply online or download the application below:

Poll worker application

Interpreter application for Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Bengali, or Hindi