Insider's Guide to NY Primary

So you want to vote in the primaries. Here's what you need to know.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

On September 14, New Yorkers vote in primary elections that will determine the final slates for federal, state and local races this November. If you are a registered voter in New York and have a designated political party affiliation, you can vote in your party’s primary elections. Or if you're not sure whether you're registered, don't know who represents you, and have no idea where to go come Tuesday, fear not. We can help. 

Up for grabs this primary season are places on the ballot for federal, state and local offices, including New York's U.S. Senate seats and seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, plus New York Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, the state senate and assembly and other local races. Here's what you need to know if you're planning to go to the polls.

Are you registered to vote?

If you're not sure, check the status of your voter registration on the New York State Board of Elections Web site.

If you’re not registered, it's too late to register in time for the September 14 primary. Voter registration forms must be received by the Board of Elections 25 days before an election day. But there’s still time to participate in the November general election. Download a voter registration form and be sure send it in or deliver it to your county’s Board of Elections by October 8, 2010.

You're also out of luck if you’re registered to vote but did not enrolled in a political party, because New York has a closed-primary system. In order to vote in primaries, you must indicate your party of choice when you fill out a voter registration form. Your choices are: Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative and Working Families parties.

Changing your voter registration

If you want to make changes to your existing registration, including choosing or changing your party affiliation, you can use the same voter registration form. But remember, you won’t be able to vote in your party's primary in the same year. And if you've moved to a new county, you will need to re-register. For more information, call 1-800-FOR-VOTE (1-800-367-8683).

Learn about your representation

Who are your current elected officials? Use this map to find the officials now representing your congressional, senate and assembly districts.

Where and when to vote and what to bring with you

Use this tool from the New York City Board of Elections to find your polling place if you are voting in New York City. This search, created by Vote411.org -- a site launched by the League of Women Voters -- covers the whole state.

Polls open at 6 a.m. on election day and close at 9 p.m.
If you registered to vote by mail and are voting for the first time, bring your current New York driver’s license or the last four digits of your Social Security number.

If you don't have either of these sources of identification, you can bring a valid photo ID, a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check or paycheck or another government document that shows your name and address.

If you don’t have any ID or your name is not on the rolls at your polling site but you believe you are eligible to vote, you can still vote. Ask for an affidavit ballot, also known as a provisional ballot. You’ll need to swear that you are a registered voter and provide your current and previous addresses. For the primary election, you’ll also need to include the name of the party you’re enrolled in.

After the election, the Board of Elections will check its records, and if you’re indeed eligible to vote and are at the correct poll site, your vote will be counted. If not, you will receive a notice that you are not eligible, along with a registration application for future elections.

What you can expect at the polling site

For starters, brand new voting machines! Lever machines are out and starting this year, all New Yorkers will be voting with paper ballots.

Vote NY has videos that demonstrate on how to vote on the new machines. It’s a simple three-step process: 1. Get a paper ballot from a poll worker. 2. Mark the ballot with a pen or request an accessible touch-screen machine. 3. Feed the marked ballot into the vote counting machine. If you have any question about the new voting machines, you can ask a poll worker for help.

Who's running?

Need to learn more about the candidates participating in the 2010 primaries? Check out race pages from It's a Free Country and WNYC:

Republican Primary for New York Governor: Rick Lazio, Carl Paladino

Democratic U.S. Senate Primary: Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Gail Goode

Republican U.S. Senate Primary: Gary Berntsen, Jay Townsend

Republican U.S. Senate Primary: Blakeman Bruce, Joe DioGuardi, David Malpass

Democratic Primary for Attorney General: Richard L. Brodsky, Sean Coffey, Eric Dinallo, Kathleen M. Rice, Eric T. Schneiderman

Republican Congressional 13th District Primary: Michael Allegretti, Michael Grimm

Democratic Congressional 14th District Primary: Carolyn Maloney, Reshma Saujani

Democratic Congressional 15th District Primary: Joyce Johnson, Vincent Morgan, Adam Clayton Powell IV, Charles Rangel, Jonathan Tasini (Ruben D. Vargas did not participate in this interview)

Democratic State Senate, 30th District Primary: Bill Perkins, Basil Smikle

Democratic State Senate, 33rd District Primary: Pedro Espada Jr., Daniel Padernacht, Gustavo Rivera

And check out our list of notable endorsements from local newspapers (updated regularly). 


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Comments [9]

Lesley Oram from Brooklyn

I am a little confused. I registered today under Working Families, but I could not tell who would be my choices in the primary. Is there a separate Working Families primary or do I need to change my registration to the Democratic Party?

Aug. 08 2013 11:17 AM

The voter registration form does not print properly........it is cut off on page one, after the "Identification" section, #12.

Sep. 14 2010 05:39 PM
George from washington heights

I thought I had fully prepared for this primary by just by checking out all the people listed on this web page who are running in my district. However, when I went to vote, there were a couple of other offices to vote for!

Sep. 14 2010 11:27 AM
joe from Astoria


helped me find my congressional district

Sep. 13 2010 09:48 PM
Andrea from Smithtown

How can I find out which district I belong to. The district map doesn't seem to work.

Sep. 13 2010 09:05 PM

Before I found your great site, I Googled "how use new voting machines in ny?" On 9/13/10, the day before elections, the first item in their listing was the Board of Elections official site that explains in detail how to use the OLD lever machines. Shouldn't there be a way to get this outdated information off the top of the list?

Sep. 13 2010 12:28 PM
Anna Sale

Amanda, you may have just found a design flaw in our story about design. You can find the sample ballot here: http://beta.wnyc.org/articles/its-free-country/2010/sep/07/new-nyc-ballot-could-cause-confusion/

Sep. 13 2010 11:54 AM
Amanda Stinchecum from Brooklyn

Where is the sample ballot that is supposed to be on this web page?

Sep. 13 2010 11:32 AM

where are the long island listings? i can't find a website anywhere that clearly lists all of the primaries taking place next week. some free country.

Sep. 07 2010 12:20 PM

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