Your General Election Guide

So you want to vote in the General Election? Here's all the info you need.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

November 2nd is Election Day! If you're not sure whether you're registered, don't know who represents you, and have no idea where to go to vote, fear not -- We can help. 

Up for grabs this election cycle are federal, state and local offices, including New York Senate and House seats, plus New York Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, the state senate and assembly and other local races. For non-New Yorkers, we're covering federal and local elections in Connecticut and New Jersey, too. Here's what you need to know before going 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 website.

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 in New York.

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. Or just pop your address into this handy google map. This search, created by—a site launched by the League of Women Voters—covers the whole state.

In New York, polls open at 6 a.m. on Election Day and close at 9 p.m. Polls open at the same time in Connecticut and New Jersey, but they close an hour earlier, at 8 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 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. 

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

Vote NY also has videos that demonstrate 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.

Let Brian and Azi walk you through the ballot

And be wary, WNYC has found some other confusing errors on the ballot.

Who's running?

Here's the official certified list of candidates. But we've got lots more below on specific races we're watching.

Need to learn more about the candidates participating in this year's closest races? Check out these profiles from It's a Free Country and WNYC:

New York

Governor: Andrew Cuomo vs. Carl Paladino

Attorney General: Eric Schneiderman vs. Dan Donovan

Congressional District 1: Tim Bishop vs. Randy Altschuler

Congressional District 13: Michael McMahon vs. Michael Grimm

Congressional District 19: John Hall vs. Nan Hayworth

New Jersey

Let WNYC's Bob Hennelly walk you through the races that matter in NJ.


United States Senate: Richard Blumenthal vs. Linda McMahon

Governor: Dan Malloy vs. Tom Foley

Congressional District 4: Jim Himes vs. Dan Debicella

Need a little more help?

Newspaper endorsment guide

Remember to turn your NY ballot over for the charter revision questions

Brian Lehrer's 30 Issues in 30 Days series

Where They Stand: It's A Free Country researches candidate positions


More in:

Comments [8]

beth smith from Williamsville, NY

thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Nov. 02 2010 07:52 PM
Erika Muller from Merrick, NY

I had no problems voting (out on Long Island) but I really don't like the new system. The print is tiny, the ovals are way too small, and the whole system of tearing off the ballot sheet from the pad and recording the number in the voting book next to the voter's name appears to be rife it problems. I don't particularly care if anyone knows who I voted for but it IS supposed to be a secret ballot. If the number of my ballot is recorded next to my name, someone could get that information. It seems like someone could have come up with a better system.

And I miss my KER-THUNK when the old machines registered my vote.

Nov. 02 2010 04:07 PM

This is a FANTASTIC start!! Thank you SO much for providing this information, it was impossible to find an objective listing of the candidates and their positions anywhere but here! After reviewing this page, I will NOT be voting party line, and thats exactly why this type of information is so valuable. The only thing is I wish all the ballot choices were here: I'd like more information on comptroller, my congressional district (8th) and all others. For the next voting day, can you please include this info and broadcast out to voters this objective information exists! I've tried to share this with all my friends today, I just wish it were more complete!

Nov. 02 2010 02:21 PM
Anthony from Buchanan

this is a very confusing and uncoordinated election process. I understand the need to satisfy the ADA requirements, however the people at the polling site this morning clearly were not up to date on this new process. if it was not broke why try to fix it?
this in the first time in all these many years of my voting -- i was unclear if my vote today actually was processed

Nov. 02 2010 12:03 PM
ericaeats from Brooklyn,NY

Thank you for this great resource of information!

Nov. 02 2010 11:01 AM
oscar m from ny

hell no i wont city voted twice for only two term mayoral election time period: and weird forces flip floped..i can't wait til the next presidential candidate shows up..this earth is really ...

Nov. 01 2010 07:40 PM
don't forget! from manhattan, ny

There's also a race in NY's 14th Congressional District (East side + parts of Queens):
Carolyn Maloney (D) is running against Ryan Brumberg (R).
This is a very important race and ought to be mentioned by WNYC as well.

Oct. 26 2010 12:01 AM
Shabd Simon-Alexander from brooklyn, ny

I have been waiting for this website for years. As someone casually involved in politics, out marching or getting out the vote once every couple of years, and listening to NPR almost every day, I still find it confusing and difficult to find substantial information on candidates and their issues. For busy New Yorkers, especially, its hard to find the time to read in depth all of the candidates websites. Often its hard to even find out who's running in your local elections. And I'm actually involved, I can just imagine how easy it is to dismiss the entire election process if you are less involved, just based on how difficult it is to find information. Finally a website where all of this information in available together - THANK YOU WNYC!

Oct. 19 2010 10:05 PM

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