New York City has an election day swiftly approaching on November 5. In addition to our Tuesday election, New York City has implemented early voting for the first time. Surprisingly, New York falls behind several other states when it comes to easing regulations on voting and participation. The purpose of early voting is to hopefully increase the number of New Yorkers who can participate in elections since so many citizens face obstacles trying to cast their ballot.
Early voting locations across the city will be open for nine days, including two full weekends. Election day is Tuesday, November 5, and early voting will be held from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3. The times vary each day so check with nyc.pollsitelocator.com for logistics. There are 61 locations across the five boroughs designated for early voting. All registered voters are assigned to a location which can be found on the website. You must already be registered to participate in early voting and/or voting on Election Day. If you choose to vote early, the ballot will be the exact same as the ballot used on Election Day. You should also know that if you choose to vote early, you may not change your vote on Election Day. Once you submit your ballot, you cannot vote again.
You can find out more about the races, candidates, proposals on the ballot, and your polling station at www.whosontheballot.org. All you need to do is type in your current address and all of the information is provided. This election, there are five very important proposals on the ballot. The proposals address 1) adopting rank choice voting in NYC elections; 2) increasing the size of the Civilian Complaint Review Board; 3) ethics and governance of city elected and city agencies; 4) allowing the use of a “rainy day fund”; and 5) providing community boards more time to review Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) applications. You should be sure to review the questions before Election Day. I find the summaries of the proposals are written in a somewhat non-straight forward manner. I needed to read the summaries several times before deciding what I thought of each proposal.
The seemingly most controversial proposal is the first on the ballot pertaining to rank choice voting, so please spend time thinking about the pros and cons of giving voters the option to rank up to five candidates in primaries and special elections for mayor, public advocate, comptroller, borough president, and City Council in 2021. This process would eliminate separate primary runoff elections and has caused quite the stir in political circles.
Voting is one of the most important ways we can exercise our democratic rights. We are responsible for creating the democracy and society we want to see. If you are able, please be sure to vote on November 5 or during the two weeks before!
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC.