Until someone corrected me on Facebook, I thought the New York State primary election was Tuesday the 6th, instead of Tuesday the 13th of September, because I am only human. This was embarrassing to me, because for all I tout the importance of state and local elections, this is my second time getting confused by them.
Back in June, I tried to go vote for my Congressman (Representative Hakeem Jefferies, currently one of the Hill's 50 Most Beautiful People, and a truly beautiful soul) only to find out he was running unopposed. I arrived at the school polling site to find it closed, and had to call 311 and the Board of Elections to find out that Congressman Jefferies didn't have a primary challenger!
I wasn't going to let that happen this time. And I'm not going to let that happen to you. Together we can figure out who among you needs to go out and vote next Tuesday.
We have to start by finding out who represents you. Take a moment to put your address into this site, to find your Assembly Member. Make a special note of your district number (for example, I'm Assembly District 56. Then go to this site, and find you State Senator, taking note of the district number (District 25 right here!).
Then, do some research on your Assembly Member. Check their Twitter if they have one. See which bills they've supported (every Assembly Member has a website with a "Legislation" tab that shows what bills they have sponsored). Find bills you care about, and see how your Assembly Member voted on those bills. Just click "Floor Votes" and find your representatives name!
Have we all familiarized ourselves with our representatives? Great. Now, we need to see who's on the ballot. This PDF has a list of everyone on the ballot in each county, but it's maybe the most confusing document I've ever linked to on this blog. Remember those numbers we have from our Assembly and Senate Districts? Yes, those will come in handy now.
Scroll down the list until you find your county. This list starts in Manhattan, then the Bronx, Brooklyn (actually Kings County), Queens, and Staten Island (apparently called Richmond County). Once you've found your county, scroll until you see your Senate or Assembly District. If you DO NOT see your Senate or Assembly District on the list, that means your Representatives are running unopposed in the primary, and you do not have to vote.
If you DO see your district numbers on the list, you are in a district with a primary, and you have to vote. You will have the option to choose between the people listed on this document. Most candidates for the Senate and Assembly have campaign websites where you can read up on their positions on the issues. Since this is a primary, many of them likely have similar positions, in which case you can look at candidates' experience, performance in debates, and past statements they may have made.
It's not just Assembly Members and Senators up for election. You also have the thrilling option to choose delegates to the state convention, members of the county and state committee, and district leaders! If this is the first you're hearing of these offices, you're not alone. I had no idea how judges were elected until I started researching for this blog post!
In New York, judges are chosen by a judicial committee, and Assembly Districts are represented by residents who are elected in the primary election. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, these delegates rarely have opposition, and are chosen for their party loyalty, and willingness to vote for the judges decided by the heads of party leaders. This can lead to very little competition in judicial elections, with many justices running unopposed.
As for District Leaders, there are two in every district, always one man and one woman. They register people to vote, help staff poll sites, and generally represent the political party in the community. County Committee members are very similar, but they are elected to the county commission to make decisions about a political party's platform, and who to run in the event of a special election. Whether or not you will be able to find information on these people is entirely up to them. Some District Leaders are very involved, and some are rarely seen.
Full disclosure, I do not plan to research my district leader candidates and delegates to the Brooklyn County Committee. A woman only has room for so many things in her brain, and if I start learning about every single person running for county committee, I'll forget some vital facts like my grandma's birthday, Bruce Springsteen's discography, and which state has a unicameral legislature (Nebraska, by the way, which is also the name of Bruce Springsteen's sixth album). So while you are more than free to do your own research, I'm going to go listen to Nebraska instead.