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With no federal or statewide races, 2023 is an off-year for politics — except in New York City.
Here, a busy election year is ahead. There’s guaranteed to be at least one race in your neighborhood, including City Council seats and district attorney elections in three boroughs.
The political season will kick off in earnest with candidates petitioning to get on the primary ballot starting later this month. The primary election is June 27: Voters will nominate party candidates through ranked-choice voting for city positions, except for district attorney races which do not use the ranked-choice method. The general election will be held on November 7.
Here’s what you need to know now.
Voters will get to decide who holds each of the 51 City Council seats this year. The districts were redrawn last year following the 2020 nationwide census, which revealed changes in the city’s population. The districts were changed to ensure that they represent roughly equal populations, and equitably represent minority populations.
The City Council is New York City’s legislative branch and its lawmakers vote on a wide range of issues impacting New Yorkers — including public safety, labor laws, housing and how the city’s public funds are used in general — which they negotiate with the mayor. They also have power in influencing decisions made by civic and business leaders, as well as those made by the mayor’s office.
Read more about what the City Council does in THE CITY’s guide here.
What’s more, the city’s charter says that every 20 years, City Council members will serve a two-year term instead of a traditional four-year term to allow “new challenges” to incumbents during the redistricting shuffle. You can think of it as a four-year term split into two — except that anyone who wins the first two-year term is not guaranteed a second win. (Council members are limited to serve no more than two four-year terms, per a 2010 referendum.)
District Attorney: The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island
Three boroughs have elections to choose new district attorneys, the top local prosecutor in the county. In The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, the incumbents — Darcel Clark, Melinda Katz and Michael McMahon, respectively — will have to win re-election. There are no term limits for district attorneys in New York City. And because the office is a county position — serving through the state court system — ranked-choice voting does not apply to these races; voters will choose candidates through the traditional one-vote method.
Others: Judges and delegates
There are a few other races that may pop up on your ballot, including Civil Court judge and delegates to the judicial convention. Read more about those jobs and what they do in our guide.
Key dates in 2023
For the primary:
- February 28
The first day candidates will start collecting voter signatures on designation petitions to get on the primary ballot. A designation petition names or nominates the candidates running for a party position or public office, complete with witnesses and signatures. Here’s what the sample form for designating petitions looks like.
- May 4
Deadline for the city Board of Elections (BOE) to certify petitions and finalize the June primary ballot. This is when we will know, officially, which candidates will appear on the ballot.
- June 12
The last day to request your absentee ballot online or by mail. Here’s how to do that.
- June 17
The last day to register as a voter, or to update your address, for the June primary.
- June 17 - June 25
The early-voting period.
- June 26
The last day to request your absentee ballot request in person from a city Board of Elections office.
- June 27
Primary Day — and the last day to return your absentee ballot or postmark it. It must reach the city Board of Elections by July 4 to be counted.
For the general election:
- October 23
The last day to request an absentee ballot online or by mail. Here’s how to do that.
- October 28 - November 5
The early-voting period.
- November 6
The last day to request an absentee ballot in person.
- November 7
The general election — and the last day to return your absentee ballot or postmark it. It must reach the BOE by November 14th to be counted.
How can I check if I’m registered? And where do I vote?
Find your voter registration details here. You’ll also see which districts you’ll vote in for judicial, congressional, City Council and civil court elections.
The BOE hasn’t updated its polling site locations yet — we’ll update this story when they do.
When will I know who’s actually on the ballot for the June primaries?
The first week of May.
That’s when the city Board of Elections certifies the ballot, i.e. ensures that all of the candidates have followed the proper protocols to earn a spot in the primary.
A big part of doing this is petitioning, or the process of collecting a certain number of signatures from potential voters in the district where a candidate is running.
You may see campaign volunteers asking people on the street to sign petitions supporting their candidate’s run; they’re usually holding long paper forms from the Board of Elections.
Candidates need a lot of signatures. For example, for New York City Council seats, the city charter mandates a minimum of 450 signatures this year. But, often, candidates gather many more than the minimum — in case a political opponent challenges their validity and moves to throw some out.
The period for collecting signatures begins on February 28 and runs through April 6. Then, election officials have about four weeks to certify the candidates and issue a final ballot lineup.
I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I vote in local New York City elections?
Probably not this year.
The City Council passed a law in late 2021 allowing non-citizens in the five boroughs to vote in municipal elections. But a judge on Staten Island struck it down in the summer of 2022, and while the city almost immediately appealed that judge’s decision, it’s unlikely to be resolved for the 2023 election cycle. That means, for now, non-citizen New Yorkers can’t vote.
Hearing from you makes our reporting better!