My number one fan, Elyse, suggested I write a post about the upcoming elections in New York, and create a comprehensive guide to when they are, and why they're important. Many of my readers are in New York, but if my New Mexican friends want a similar guide, or anyone else is confused about elections, you can let me know by putting your state in the comments of this post!
April 19th is the Presidential Primary in New York, but that isn't the only thing on the docket that day. The governor has also scheduled special elections for three Assembly districts and one state Senate district. So if you live on Long Island, you have a chance to potentially elect a Democrat to fill a Republican's old seat. The Assembly districts of lower Manhattan, Staten Island, and eastern Brooklyn. Only the Manhattan district is contested, the others are Republicans or Democrats running unopposed.
Why is it important to vote for your state elected officials? So many reasons! For one, state elected officials control the state budget, which helps New York City out a lot. The city has its own budget, but key services like the MTA. The state also makes laws that affect all of our lives. Bills like the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which ensures equal rights for transgender people, a bill to raise the minimum wage to fifteen dollars, and a bill to give paid family leave to New Yorkers.
Those are three examples of bills that I personally hold dear, but which have yet to pass both houses of the New York State legislature. The best way to ensure that things you care about are turned into law is to vote for people who care about them as well. There's such a perception that New York is all one party, but the State Assembly is controlled by Democrats, while the Senate is controlled by Republicans. Your vote matters more than you think it does, and it's critical you go out to vote in all elections.
But the presidential primary and the special elections aren't the only elections coming up in New York! There are Congressional primaries on June 28th, and local primary elections on September 13th. Much like presidential primaries, these elections let you choose between two people of the same party, to represent the party in the general election in November. A lot of local representatives are likely running unopposed, especially in the primaries, but if you're unsatisfied with your current representation at the state or local level, this is one great way to address it.
Finally, the general election is on November 8th. On that Tuesday, you go vote for the president, your Congressional representatives, the one New York Senator up for re-election (Senator Schumer), your state senators, your Assemblyperson, your councilperson, any judges, and give your opinion on a variety of ballot issues yet-to-be-released. Don't cast your vote against President Trump and stop! Vote down the entire ticket, and have a stake in who is representing you at every level.
That's a lot of elections, and I know we all have to work too much to afford rent in this city. Thankfully, the state government knows that, and in New York, you're entitled to take time off to vote! If you don't have four hours between the opening of the polls and the start of your work, or four hours between the end of work and the closing of the polls, you can take 2 hours off to go vote. Basically, if the polls open at 8am and close at 7pm, and you work from 9 to 5, you can tell your employer that under New York State election law 3-110, you are legally entitled to time off to vote.
Plus, all employers have to post a policy like this ten days before the election. Make sure to keep your employers honest, and help your fellow employees!
How do you know who is representing you? Do you mean your Congressperson? Your State Senator? Your Assemblyperson? Your Councilperson? Your two Senators? It's all there, so do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with your elected officials, before you go out and vote four different times between now and November 8th!