So you want to cast your vote and help save democracy this election cycle? The deadline to register to vote in New York was October 12. You registered, right? Great! Then let’s proceed…
To prep for the big day, there are some excellent online resources for you:
For superfast and clear info on what’s at stake, the three proposals on the ballot this year are summarized here by the Campaign Finance Board.
The New York Times, meanwhile, made an occasionally frustrating but ultimately informative game for the last election to portray how polling differs for people of different regions and socioeconomic classes, and it is a very cool teaching tool.
And in real life, Caveat, the vibrant performance space on the Lower East Side, has been running a series called Cramming for the Midterms 2018. The final installment, on Sunday, November 4, attempts to answer the question on all of our minds: “WTF is happening and why?”
Get to the Polls!
Let’s begin here with the most important piece of information: The midterm elections take place on Tuesday, November 6. New York doesn’t have early voting—which baffles this Florida-born writer, who thought that her home state had the worst reputation when it comes to elections, but at least we give our voters a larger window of time in which to cast their ballots! Because it was the most convenient for agricultural workers in the 19th century to get to the polls on a Tuesday (and because it could not interfere with the Sabbath), Election Day is in the middle of the workweek. Many other countries hold elections on weekends and holidays, which is generally considered more convenient for the majority of citizens.
Anyway! Today, each voter is assigned to only one polling location, where you must go in order to fill out your ballot. The Board of Elections in the City of New York has a simple tool to make sure you know how to find your site. And to make the trek there a little easier, the major ride-sharing apps Lyft and Uber are offering free or discounted rides to the polls on the 6th. If you’re up for a bike ride, Citi Bike is also offering free passes all day with the code “BIKETOVOTE.” And some restaurants, such as Cava, are giving their employees paid time off to vote.
If for some reason you are turned away from the polls (maybe you forgot your state-issued ID or your name isn’t on the registration list?), you can ask for a provisional ballot. This ballot buys you time to fix whatever discrepancy emerged. This is important! Remember this!
We also have some valuable information about this year’s New York ballot. It will be two pages because all of the text (including names) is written in five languages and/or alphabets. These sheets need to be separated by you in order to be scanned properly (poll workers aren’t allowed to handle your ballot, which makes sense, right?). If you accidentally rip the ballot, such that the scanner won’t accept it—don’t worry! You’re allowed up to three ballots (two voids) if you run into any issues.
Hopefully this doesn’t all sound too alarmist. Remember to breathe—and that the future of the Republic is in your hands. No pressure.
There’s a long list of places in the city where you can go to watch the results if you’re looking for some company as you brace for the outcome. We recommend Election Night Lights at PS 450 in midtown (“healthy community dialogue” for the win!) and the nonpartisan party hosted by the NYC Political Forum. Or if you’re in Brooklyn, viewing parties at either the Brooklyn Bazaar in Greenpoint or the Bell House in Gowanus.
The #IVoted initiative is teaming up with artists all over the country (including the likes of Julien Baker and Lake Street Dive right here in New York!) to offer some lucky voters free tickets to their concerts on Tuesday night. Calling all fans of 1980s rock and ska for the Fishbone and Living Colour show at Brooklyn Bowl!
Another tasty perk: AMNY compiled a list of coffee shops and restaurants around town—including Toby’s Estate and Black Seed Bagels—where you can flash your snazzy “I Voted” sticker for a discount. So, hey, if the thought of saving democracy is not enough to get you to the polls, maybe some hot carbs will do the trick!
And while you are out democracy-ing it up, you’ll need some sweet tunes—we can help there, too!