Polling station voters sign (79332)
Polling station voters sign Credit: Nia Sanders

The primary elections in New York State are set to take place on June 23 but early voting has already begun and with COVID-19 still lingering people are voting by mail.

As the pandemic continues and some have fears of voting in person, New Yorkers have three options to cast their ballots: by absentee-ballot, during the nine day early voting period or on Election Day––Tuesday, November 3.

“A survey of County Boards of Elections shows that New Yorkers are requesting absentee ballots for the June 23rd primary in record numbers,” officials from the New York State Board of Elections said. In the 2016 presidential primary, for the entire primary there was a total of 157,885 absentee ballots requested. To date, there have already been over 1,070,198 absentee ballots requested for the June 23, 2020 primary.”

The deadline to request absentee ballots by mail was June 16, however, voters can still apply for absentees in person at their local board of elections through June 22. In-person early voting began on June 13 and will go through June 21 and voters can cast their ballots on Primary Election Day on June 23. Voting locations can be found at Vote-NYC or by calling 1-866-Vote-NYC.

As the city and state prepare for elections for several seats in Congress, the State Senate and the State Assembly are up for grabs. Queens is also voting for its next borough president. There are 11 races happening in the primary elections for candidates looking to be the Democratic nominee and represent New York in Congress.

In one of the state’s most watched and highly contested congressional primaries, 11 candidates are looking to replace Bronx Congressman José Serrano, who announced last year that he’s retiring after his revelation that he’s battling Parkinson’s disease.

Among the candidates looking to take the seat are Assemblyman Michael Blake, City Council Members Rubén Díaz , Sr., Ritchie Torres, Ydanis Rodríguez and former New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

In the District 5 congressional race in Queens, longtime Congressman Gregory Meeks is looking to secure his spot as he faces off with educational health director Shaniyat Chowdhury, who claims he would be “the first person from public housing to be elected to Congress.”

In an interesting race, web developer, rapper and activist Paperboy Love Prince is running against incumbent Nydia Velázquez in the District 7 congressional race, which represents parts of Brooklyn Manhattan and Queens.

Four candidates are looking to unseat incumbent Yvette Clark in Brooklyn’s District 9 race. Candidates include City Council Member Chaim M. Deutsch, Community Board member Adem Bunkeddeko, small business owner Lutchi Gayot and housing organizer Isiah James.

In District 13, which consist of Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood, two candidates are looking to unseat Rep. Adriano Espaillat. The district was once occupied by longtime retired Congressman Charlie Rangel. Author James Felton Keith II and food and beverage manager Rodriguez have thrown their hat in the race.

In the State Senate Democratic primaries, community organizer Keron Alleyn is running for unseat District 19 incumbent Roxanne Peraud in Southeast Brooklyn. In Brooklyn’s 25th District, three candidates are looking to take the seat of retiring State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, who was first elected in 1984. Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright, community organizer Jason Salmon and public school teacher Jabari Brisport are all hoping to be Montgomery’s replacement.

Several seats are up for grabs in the New York State Assembly. One highly contested race is the vacant District 31 seat in Southern Queens last occupied by Michele Titus, who assumed office in January as a civil court judge. Several candidates are running for the seat including

Khaleel Anderson of the Working Families Party, Indo-Caribbean Alliance, Inc. executive director Richard David, U.S. Army veteran Derrick DeFlorimonte, office manager for State Sen. James Sanders, Jr., Lisa George and community organizer Shea Uzoigwe.

Another Assembly race to watch is the Bronx’s District 79 race. The seat was vacated by incumbent Michael Blake, who is running for Congress. Candidates looking to replace him include political consultant George Alvarez, social worker Chantel Jackson, community organizer Dion Powell and community organizer Elvis Santana.

Another candidate in the race is former Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who is re-running for his old District 79 Assembly seat. Stevenson served in the State Assembly from 2011 to 2014 before being convicted on bribery and extortion charges and serving three years in prison.

Former State Sen. Jesse Hamilton is vying to get back into politics by running against incumbent Diana Richardson for Brooklyn’s 43 District seat. Hamilton lost his state senate seat in 2018 when he was defeated by Zellmor Myrie. Registered nurse Phara Souffrant Forrest is looking to beat incumbent Walter T. Moseley in Brooklyn’s 57th District.

Queens will elect a new borough president after former B.P. Melinda Katz’s election to Queen’s District Attorney. Candidates in the race include City Council Members Donovan Richards, Costa Constantinides, former City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, retired NYPD sergeant Anthony Miranda and community activist and businessman Dao Yin.